6For I am the LORD, I change not; (Mal 3:)
At the time Paul was writing his epistles, the church was already on the road to corruption and had begun to split apart before his eyes. Paul had this to say about denominations:
10Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (1Cor 1:)
And wolves were already at work picking their way through the flock:
28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:)
This should be no surprise to Paul or any of us since Jesus warned His disciples about just such an occurrence:
2Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:)
In fact, hundreds of years before this, God through Jeremiah warned us of the events of today:
1Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. 2And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely. 3O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. 4Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God. 5I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. 6Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased. (Jer 5:)
And again Jesus established it for our times:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:)
Then God through Zechariah had this to say about shepherds who desert their flock:
17Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened. (Zech 11:)
In the beginning of the Church there were no divisions or shadow of turning (back to the flesh, carnality) because in the beginning there were but the 12 Apostles being fully led by the Holy Spirit. Then the church began to grow, and with it came the wolves, just as there were Egyptians who tagged along after the Israelites, and just as Simon the sorcerer looked to get in on the "magic" aspects of Christianity.
Man wants to be carnal and still believe he can be accepted into Heaven, that is, be "saved." There are many types and degrees of change different people will accept, and those he does not accept he tries to get around by changing the rules. Some people like to feel "religious" and to feel like they have "worked" their way to Heaven by performing rituals and making sacrifices. That's ok. If it makes them feel better about themself, have at it. Does God accept these works? Of course not. He only accepts the work He performed on the cross. All our works are like filthy rags.
Since God did all the work Himself, many people like to believe that there is nothing they have to do, so therefore they're saved forever without having to do anything at all; that is, they are saved by "Grace Alone." That's fine. Again, if it makes you feel good, have at it. Does God accept this attitude? Take a fresh look at the parable of the unfruitful servant (Mat 25:28).
Some people figure that everybody is saved whether they are a Christian or not. That's fine. It's also fine to think you have another chance at life because of reincarnation.
In other words, it makes no difference what you believe or try to do, it all comes out the same - you're going to die. Man came from dust, and that's where he is headed. Religion is just an imaginary tool to make us think we can do it our own way and still cheat the Angel of Death.
After the beginning of the church, wolves came from everywhere and from every belief and society in order to join the Church, which was the going thing of the day. Because of this many different attitudes, convictions and philosophies were added to the church doctrines in order that these people might feel at home and that their former life of study and convictions hadn't been a waste. To counter these "heresies," the churches had to hold conventions where they tried to weed out those doctrines that were too far out in left field to be accepted.
Eventually, after Christianity was made the "State Religion" it became what is known as "Catholic," that is "Universal" incorporating many of the religions of the many lands where the church now had power. This is why we have acceptable rituals of pagan origin like trees on the supposed birth of Jesus, and Easter eggs and bunnies on the day of Jesus' resurrection.
So from early on, compromises were made by the church in order to keep people comfortably "in the fold."
With but one accepted religion, and with the governmental powers behind the church leaders, it was easy to force everyone to do what the head of the church wanted - especially since that "head" was acclaimed to be the only spokesman of God.
Over time, with no competition, the church slid further and further from the reality of the Gospel: Until the Middle Ages where there began to be people who challenged the Powers that Be. Many of these challengers lost their heads. Others, like Luther, were ousted and persecuted, which gave the martyr power and a degree of authority.
Some actually opposed the church and wanted to break away from it altogether. Others, like Luther did not want to break way or form a new church, but rather wanted to get the church back on track.
Either way, the followers of these "Martyrs" did what they wanted to do under the name of whoever they decided to follow, and the Reformation had begun. The first of these were the Lutherans, who were (though they might not like the title) the first "Protestants."
Now we have the beginning of a dog pack set free, with mutts running off in all directions, each digging their own little hole in the shade in which to settle.
These segments of the church developed strong attitudes and traditions and doctrines, each trying to surpass the other in religiosity and sanctimony. Even the Catholic church, now having competition, began to tighten up its borders and behave itself more properly.
Little by little, the Protestants in particular, started to feel the strains of individuality as their congregates wanted to remain religious, therefore "saved," but at the same time "do their own thing." For the most part, at that time, their "own thing" was relatively mild, like believing that Jesus was not all God, or wearing of certain apparel and the like. It did not often involve the actual breaking of solid commandments. But in any case, those who disagreed with the strong stance of the church, broke off and formed almost identical images of the Mother church it came out of with but a slight change in the name.
This has been the pattern for many centuries. Even the Catholic church has felt the fragmentation process.
But the main body of the churches have held a strong line on their original concepts, whatever that might be.
In the past century there have been what historians call "Latter Rains" where a strong outpouring of the Holy Spirit has been felt in many quarters. When it rains, it rains on all, not just the Christians.
Many new religious movements were formed out of these rains, like the Pentecostal and the Evangelicals as well as many big name ministers such as Billy Graham and Oral Roberts to name but a few. Revivals were plentiful and healings were happening, and both were highly sought after.
These are but a few of the "recognized and approved" movements that came out of the Latter Rains. There were others as well, not so well received by the "decent" Christian community. And since these "new arrivals" did not fit in with acceptable doctrine, they were called "cults" to keep them separate from the "Good" churches. The Mormons, JW's, and the Adventists are but a few of the churches that were formed at this time. Their efforts were not to be different, oddly enough, but rather to reestablish what they saw to be the original church that the Apostles had founded.
Up until fairly recently we had essentially three solid bases of Theology, all calling themselves "Christian:" the Catholics, the Protestants, and those we call "Cults." Of course their were many other churches as well ranging from the very conservative to the very liberal, and often with a name sounding very similar to some "Mainline" denomination.
But the Catholic stayed very Catholic, the Methodists stayed very Methodical, and the Pentecostals remained very Penticostalish, and on and on. Doctrine and allowed behavior in these churches remained fairly hard and fast, not wavering.
Then we begin to hear that the firm, no-holds-barred Catholic Church who is so certain that all those who are not as they are, are bound for hell (this being especially so with the recent announcement by the new Pope), has not been so squeaky-clean as they have been letting on to be. And in fact, these abuses, we find, have been going on for a long time, and when they were discovered, they were overlooked by the leadership as if they were actually regarded as acceptable behavior by the heads of the church.
It appears that the Catholic church had found its tail some time ago but has been concealing the fact.
Now we find the church that we consider as the beginning of it all, the one we think of when we speak of "Protestant," the Lutheran church, has hit the skids. When you read what the Lutherans have traditionally stood for, you wonder if it might not have been easier to be a Catholic than a Lutheran. Of course over the years the Lutheran church has become much the same as all the others, but their stance was still considered as solid rock. After all, Luther was all about following the Bible to the letter, wasn't he?
I guess the letters on the Lutheran Bible have begun to smear, as it has in the Bibles of all other denominations as well, because they certainly read the words differently now then how they used to.
Yesterday, as I was dumping some cans in a recycle bin I found a recent newspaper (I don't watch TV, listen to radio, or read newspapers or magazines, so I am certainly not one to consult for newsy stuff) and it had an article that reads like this:
"In a ground breaking decision, members at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's national assembly passed a resolution Saturday urging church authorities to refrain from, or to use restraints in disciplining homosexual pastors in committed same-sex relationships. Advocates hailed the action as a historic OPENING OF THE DOOR that could lead to full participation by gays and lesbians. ...The ELCA is the nation's largest Lutheran denomination." (Emphasis mine.)
"Opening the door."
If it appears that I am critical of gays because of this article, you are wrong, and what's more, you are completely missing the point. My purpose in this article, and in almost all my articles and studies is to point out two things:
First: The fact that the churches are all distorted and corrupt from the ground upward with distorted and contrived doctrines that keep people from following the full Gospel, and:
Second: The need for pastors to get off their high-horse and stop thinking they are the "Good Shepherd" with the only True Message. That pastors and theologians need to understand that they are to leave their opinions and egos at the door when it comes to serving God's flock (and that it is GOD'S flock, and not their's). And that it's their job to feed the flock the Word, and the Word says to listen to the Holy Spirit for their instruction, not to the teacher who thinks he's God's spokesman. That the pastor should be making sure his congregates truly have received the Holy Spirit, and that they are making sure those sheep which he is in charge of listens to the Holy Spirit. And that pastors stop holding the sheep down in the thickets instead of encouraging them to run the race with everything they've got the way the Bible clearly tells them they should.
I hope I made myself clear. I want no one to listen to what I have to say if it appears in any way that I am leading them anywhere other than to a tight, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, thereby Jesus and God the Father. If you have the Holy Spirit, you will be thirsting for all He has to show you and you will need no one to tell you what to, or what not to do. In fact, you will be able to (and probably should) instruct your pastor!
Without the Holy Spirit Christianity is just another "religion."
The churches are changing, doing an about-face on their doctrine, allowing and encouraging the very same things they have told their people to strictly avoid in the past.
God doesn't change, but the churches surely do, and are! A question - when were the churches wrong? In the doctrines they held in the past? Or in their present direction?
How long do you think it will be until that pastor of yours begins teaching you things completely contrary to what he has taught you in the past?
Consider how the message in the churches changed under Hitler.
Consider how our schools that once taught from the Bible now forbids them. And prayer?
Consider how Canada, the land I always considered ahead of our own in many ways, has made preaching sin against the law punishable by imprisonment.
Consider how California is trying to do the same.
Abortion? The Media? The Governments? What next?
How do you think this is going to influence the church doctrines and your pastor's preaching when this law becomes national, or even world wide?
That won't happen, you say?
Maybe you're right.
But are you still so certain that you want to stake your Eternal destiny on what your preacher says instead of seeking the Holy Spirit and listen to what God tells you?
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