Jesus or Religion
There seems to be written law in this world that for every original and genuine thing, man has to try and make a copy of it. As we all know, imitation anything never tastes, looks, or works nearly as well as the real thing. Imitation leather is not as good as real leather. Imitation crab-meat does not taste like real crab-meat. Incredible as it is, man has even carried this same preoccupation with imitations, into the realm of Christianity. There is true Christianity and then there is religion, the man-made, devil inspired counterfeit of Christianity.
Satan is busy at work in the same field in which the Lord sowed the good seed. He is seeking to prevent the growth of the wheat by another plant, the tare, which closely resembles the wheat in appearance. By the process of imitation he is aiming to neutralize the work of Christ through the Church. I believe that in most churches today people believe that they are promoting the true gospel of Christ, when, in reality they are promoting another gospel.
The Bible is rarely expounded from the pulpits or rarely read in the pews. The demands of this rushing age are so numerous, that most Christians have little time and still less inclination to make preparation for a relational journey with God or other believers. Therefore, those who are to lazy to search and study for themselves, are left at the mercy of those whom they pay to search for them. Many of these preachers betray their trust by expounding economic problems, social problems and the beliefs of their denomination rather than the Oracles of God. And, God forbid that some lay-person should question the biblical content of what these preachers promote.
The Word of God challenges people to dig through the maze of tradition and doctrinal confusion which permeates organized Christianity as we know it. Nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to leave the study and revelation of it to a paid professional. Each person is responsible for his own study... "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15.)
Many people today would be saved from the penalty of sin but do not want to be saved from the love of sin. Many people have received Christ as Savior, who do not want to surrender to Him as Lord.
When I use the word "Churches" in the following discourse I am referring to the traditional institutional church, not the Church that Jesus said He would build made up of people from every walk of life that have accepted Him as Lord.
Churches today, are so distracted and confused by religious issues and bound by man-made denominational traditions that true Christianity is not being presented to the world. Churches have walked away from God, their first love. God's will is no longer their first priority. They are busy with their own plans, their own ideas and fighting over minor issues.
The Church of the western world has a big head and a small heart. There is to much logical thinking and to little concern about what people are feeling.God is not interested in programs, rules or regulations He is interested in people. Relationship between God and His people and between each other is what it is all about.
Pastors and leaders have limited God by walking in the smallness of their denominational and private agendas. Consumed by a blurred and incorrect vision, the sheep are perplexed and bewildered. The sheep, in the Church, need a shepherd who is submitted, led, controlled and obedient to God and His Word. This does not mean that it has to be a paid professional that has been placed there by the people or the heads of some denomination. God sets leaders in His Church from the believers in His Church!
The baggage of religious trappings must be dropped at the rent veil to the Holy of Hollies, for as you enter, you enter alone. You cannot bring a covering of credentials, or titles, or denominations. Only His Light covers your nakedness and His presence gives you strength.
Why does God make an issue of what we believe and how we serve and worship Him? Because He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24), not ritualistically. God wants to be worshiped from a heart that is responding to the truth of His Word and from a relationship with Him, not by some denomination's tradition.
Men who have no time to wait upon the Lord build according to their partial illumination and according to their own patterns. Men who interpret the Bible in light of what their denomination believes can make the Bible mean what they want. They can never discern the depths of God, they can never see clearly concerning the Church, in fact, they don't even know what or who the Church is.
The Church's mission isn't to be absorbed in doing some little religious thing behind four walls--her commission isn't a mission impossible.
Why have preachers and churches worked so long and so hard? To be sure, there are those few who have labored to provide a safe harbor for God's people. There have been those for whom the veil was pulled back, and Jesus truly displayed His Lordship upon them. Yes here and there genuine Church life is experienced by those who have no reputation to defend, no agenda to put into place, no other motive than His love. But even though you try to contain your human emotion, you almost cannot help being angry. You have accepted a definition of the Church of Jesus Christ that is vastly different from the one He said He would build. Many people practice a counterfeit Christianity.
You hear the Lord gently speak to your heart. "If you are to understand, you must know the truth. Anything that is built that is not from within the veil is not the Church. Did I not say that I would build My Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it? Pardon Me if I tell you that the Church is not for the Millennium. It is not only to get people to go to heaven at the end of this life. It is not only a scapegoat from hell. It is not for some future generation to have to deal with. This Church is a part of My covenant provision for you in the here and now. It is a means where you can have a genuine relationship with Me and each other on a DAILY basis.
"Do not be alarmed if I tell you that those churches that hurt, inflict pain and impose legalism and guilt are not built by Me. Churches in which members revel in forgiveness, slander or gossip were not built by Me. Any place where wolves are permitted to devour the sheep is not My handiwork. The Church I am building is built of broken hearts who are willing to be changed by My power and can consequently yield to My power. These people will bring the atmosphere of heaven down to earth. These people will do the will of God on earth.
"My Church is a haven from the storm. It is a place of rest and strength. The Church I am building is strong in love and compassion and will do great exploits that will point to the fact that I am alive and well. There is a highway in this Church--the highway of holiness. The unclean cannot walk its pavement, but they can be redeemed and then walk its path. They will walk this highway free from the oppression and bondage of men and organizations. This Church will be as I was, and doing as I did while I walked on this earth. My Spirit is upon this Church. It will preach good tidings to the poor; it will heal the brokenhearted; it will set the captives free; it will proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; it will give sight to the blind; it will set people free from sickness and disease; it will be the lighthouse in the midst of the storms. It is more concerned bout people than their movement"
"I will draw My people to this Church. Walls of prejudice, envy and denominationalism will come crashing down as men and women of broken and contrite heart respond and give Me there whole being, body, soul and spirit. This Church is My habitation in the earth. The forces of darkness cannot touch this Church no more than they could touch Me when I walked among men. This Church will pierce the darkness with My light and resurrection power. This Church will be a glorify My name and be a praise unto Me. Her people will laugh, dance and shout for joy and because of holiness unto Me, will cause the kingdom of Satan to tremble."
Does your heart leap with exhilaration as you anticipate being the Church that Jesus wants to build that even hell cannot affect.
How strange it now is to hear a pastor proclaim that his church was ravaged by the devil. His group might have been ravaged. But if it were truly His Church, it could not have been touched. This is not good news for the carnal. It is not good news for those who have been diligently building in the storm, with no direction, no unction and no help.
Beautiful structures of wood, hay and stubble have been erected for centuries in His Name. But just as in the vision, they cannot protect and shield from the storm, for they are not of Him. But the fact is, He will build and is building His Church, but it will be built within the veil, by broken and contrite vessels who have no agenda and no desire for glory. We will see His Church emerge and become in this world a representative of Jesus Himself, awesome in beauty and splendor, strong in character and purpose, and desperately in love with Jesus.
I leave yo with this question...How far can a church deviate from Scripture and still be called Christian?