Forsake not the fellowship

Have I forsaken the fellowship? I have a confession.  I have not attended a local church for about seven years now.  Before this I was a youth pastor for about four years and helped in youth ministry for about another three years.  This doesn’t include my own time spent in my own youth group from the age of sixteen and my two years at Bible College.

Yet with this background I have not even the slightest desire to attend a local church.  So, have I forsake the fellowship?  Have I not kept the instruction from scripture that says we are not to forsake coming together as believers?

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,[1]

I can not tell you how many times I have had this quoted to me or something very similar to it since I have stopped going to the local church.  But the question still remains, have I violated this instruction?  Have I stopped coming together with believers, since I do not do it at a local church?

Even though I meet with my family and other believers for worship and the study of scripture, I am sure there are those who think this is insufficient to count as meeting together with other believers.

It is assumed by those that tell me to get back into fellowship with other believers, that it needs to happen within a church.  Mostly because they feel that is where the believers gather.  The more believers that gather, the more fellowship can happen, the more I keep this instruction in scripture.

But if this is true, that the larger the gathering the more the command is kept to keep the fellowship, then are not those in small churches not as obedient to keep the instruction as those in larger churches.  How about those in mega churches, are they the ones who uphold this instruction better than all of us?  If after all, the larger the gathering of believers the more fellowship can take place, right?

I know I have taken it too far.  The point to be made is, I need to get involved in a local body of believers, in the minds of many, in order to keep the instruction of not forsaking the fellowship.

But is it I who has taken it too far or is it those who preach not forsaken the fellowship who have taken it too far?  I can not find in scripture where I am instructed that the local church is the fellowship I need to seek out.  Nor is it the mega church.  I can find nothing in scripture that speaks of what I am to consider fellowship, oh except for this one.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”[2]

Well, well, well I guess the minimal number of keeping the instruction of not forsaking the fellowship would be two.  Whew, was I getting worried.  I guess all those who run around telling individuals like me to quit forsaking the fellowship, have not considered what Jesus has said.  It takes two and even up to three sometimes to come together for Jesus to be in their midst.

You have heard it said.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.[3]

But we say.

“Again, I tell you that if the local church on earth agrees about anything it ask for, it will be done for it by my Father in heaven.

Apparently the Father does not consider the local body any more affective in fellowship, prayer and impacting this old world, as he does the two or three that have Christ in their midst.

How about this for a turn around?  We the groups of two or three have just as much calling and ear of the Father to change the world let alone to have our lives impacted by Christ. 

Step aside big boys and let the little guys change the world.  WE HAVE WASTED ENOUGH TIME BEING MANIPULATED BY YOU ALREADY!

[1] Hebrews 10:25a

[2] Mathew 18:20

[3] Matthew 18:19

Emotions or bust!

I have been checking the Christian Tragedy Channel and as usual there are those great men of God, with multitudes of disciples and even more followers and admirers, proclaiming the same message they always do.  Peace and prosperity to those who believe and have faith.  Their message is that God is going to restore broken things in their lives and give them abundance again.

We have the organized church resembling any and everything but what we see described to us in scripture.  And these men on the Christian Tragedy Channel will not address those things that make us sick and backslidden.  They ignore the sins of the people and speak smooth things to us instead. 

We as a “people of God” are not willing to listen to God and what His word says.  If anyone does speak the word of God to us, so we can repent and be healed, him we disqualify as angry and bitter.  With such a legalistic and mislead person we will not contend.

We are like another “people of God’ who would not listen to the Lord.  They like us had the worship, the anointing, the promises, the hope and the one true God, but they like us were hardened and obstinate.

But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate.[1]

We have strayed from the Lord the God of our salvation.  We do refuse to look at how we have strayed from what scripture teaches.  We ignore scripture that says, we are to have Apostle, Prophets, Evangelist, Teachers and finally preachers in the assembly of believers.  We ignore Christ our head for man to lead us.  It isn’t the Holy Spirit that teaches us, we have traded Him off for a good doctrine of men.  We ignore that it is sin that keeps us separated from God, so we preach His love for us instead.  We ignore the message of repentance that will result in our sins being forgiven. 

We don’t seek to know God’s word for ourselves, instead we eat another mans flesh and drink his blood because we have left The Gospel According to the Gospel.  We have abandoned the teachings of Scripture for another gospel.  Yah, we say we are Christ’s and we say we are saved and we say we obey the doctrines of scriptures, but of us it is true.

You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:  “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”[2]

Oh yah, we do honor God with our lips and it is true honor.  And yes we do worship Him and it is true worship, but it is all in vain.  It is a vanity, vanity, vanity because we do this with our own wisdom instead of the instructions of the Lord we find in scripture.

So how is it we can recognize a man of God today?  Is it the one who draws large crowds and has a successful ministry?  Or is it one who is vexed at the situation of the “people of God” and have no followers?  Is the one who speaks blessings and prosperity or is it the one who speaks of judgment and warns us?  Is it the one who is kindly and gentle or the one who in his zeal for God and His word, is angry in spirit at our turning from God?

The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me.[3]

When Ezekiel was confronted with God and His opinion on the matter, the Lord was strongly with him and he was bitter and angry in spirit. 

I am sure I speak for others when I say, we are befuddled, confused, sickened in heart, stricken with grief and dumbfounded, that those who call themselves believers and yet do not do what scripture teaches are content not to look inwards for the benefit of their own souls.  We are a gassed, vexed, sorrowful, mournful, beside ourselves and at a loss as to why a “people of God” with such apathy will not discus or even look at what we are saying.

My hope is that The Gospel According the Gospel will be a place where people will come and be challenged.  A place will people can ask questions and challenge me to give an account.  I want it to be a place were we as a people of God can open the word of God and repent when we find we do not line up with scripture.

Let us be those who challenge the people of God to return to Him, before it has to get to a bitter and angry spirit because we have no zeal for God or obeying His word.  Let’s get passionate for God, before God before He let’s loose His passion on us.

[1] Ezekiel 3:7

[2] Matthew 15:7-9

[3] Ezekiel 3:14

It isn’t the gospel of belief

Just believe in Christ is the message today.  Put your hope in Jesus is the call to the sinner today.  Invite Jesus into your heart is the altar message of conversion today.  But is this a message for people to receive the forgiveness of sins?  Many would argue that it is how we get the message out to the lost of today.  But is it the scriptural message needed for the forgiveness of sin that people need to respond to, even today?

Scripture teaches that there is only one message for people to hear, concerning our receiving the forgiveness of sins.  There is only one message for us to respond to for the forgiveness of sins, no matter what we want to think, teach or believe.  This message is forgiveness of sins through repentance.

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.[1]

Funny how the Lord is the one who sent the man in the spirit of Elijah and it was His message that He put in the mouth of His servant, but we think we know how to reach and change the hearts of men better than God.  We brag we have the eternal gospel, but we have our own modern outreach message for today.  Apparently we don’t have the eternal gospel we thought we had.

I am at a loss to explain what we are like with our new gospel.  What do you call someone who perverts the truth to gain a following, to draw larger numbers?  What do you call a people who can no longer recognize the truth and therefore are unable to preach the truth?  What do you do with a people who have left the message of their savior for the message that is acceptable of demons?

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.[2]

Still don’t think the modern message of “salvation” for the forgiveness of sins has departed from the message of the messiah?  Speaking of Jesus, scripture teaches that Jesus endorses the message of repentance as His message to mankind.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.[3]

What a tragedy, what Jesus has meant for all the nations of mankind is not what the church hears in America.

[1] Mark 1:4

[2] James 2:9

[3] Luke 24:46-47

Don’t do anything that is not Christian

Who can count the number of believers who take confidence in Jesus’ ability to bring us home?  Many a believer has taken comfort that Jesus will keep them from falling away into damnation.  In fact multitudes believe it is impossible for true believers and disciples to fall away from Christ because Christ makes it impossible for us to do so.  They are happy to quote for us the following verse.

You have heard it said.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–[1]

But we say.

To him who will keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy

For many a believer today we have replaced the words “is able” with the word “will”.  I know it doesn’t matter to us that we handle scripture this way.  We were told by our teachers that the meaning of “is able” in the court of law doesn’t mean what it should in scripture.  How many of you have a Will?  How many of you have you Will state the words “shall or will”? 

Really, what hypocrisy.  None of us makes a Will or a legal document of any kind and put the words “is able” in place of “shall or will”.  Ironic isn’t it that the Will is called what it is because people will abide by what is written in it.  When you die you don’t have to worry about those who are to carry out your wishes only being able to, leaving room for them to do something different instead.

Why is it we treat the living word of God with less respect than a legal document.  We are more studious to make sure every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted in our legal document because we know the words “is able” doesn’t mean “will”.  Yet with the word of God, we nonchalantly through aside such care and concern about treating the word of God with such care.  Then afterward we proclaim a doctrine of salvation from this misuse of scripture.

If I am so full of it, prove me wrong.  Have your Lawyer replace in all your legal documents the words “shall” and “will” with the words “is able”.  We truly are hypocrites!  What we teach is not practiced in what we do.

The facts of scripture remain the same no matter how much we misuse them.  We have a hope of salvation held out in the gospel and Christ is able to bring us our promise of salvation.  But we must remain, abide, obey, believe until the end in order to make this hope sure.  Yes, Jesus is able but we have to participate in a willing manner ourselves, according to scripture and not according to our beliefs.

Stop!  Don’t change the way you look at salvation now.  You don’t want to show the same respect for what God has written as you do for what your Lawyer has written.  This wouldn’t be the Christian way.  You don’t want to do anything that is not Christian do you?

[1] Jude 1:24

The Gospel According to the Gospel

In scripture we find a righteousness by faith that did not start in the book of Matthew.  Instead it starts with a covenant given to Abraham.  This teaching comes from our New Testament writers.

Many a Bible believing believer has been told or left with the impression that men could not be credited righteousness until Jesus died on the cross.  This anti-biblical view in reality is an imposter gospel that has replaced The Gospel According to the Gospel we find in scripture.

There is another anti-biblical view that is accepting by many a Bible believing believer.  This is again the belief our gospel starts in the book of Matthew.  However the New Testament writers defend a gospel that started long before the book four gospels.  They defend a gospel, or as they say, our gospel that was preached in the Law of Moses and the prophets.

I have articulated over and over again three truths about the gospel we share in.  The first is we are credited the righteousness that was given to our father Abraham through Christ.  That those of the Old Testament had a saving faith when they walked according to the promise of this credited righteousness

The second truth is our gospel was preached at Mt. Sinai and foretold to Abraham in advance.  When the Old Testament saints put their hope in our gospel they had a faith that could save them.

Some may ask, but how could they have our gospel?  How could they have the same hope of Christ and salvation that we do before the cross?  Well, I would like to add more evidence that our gospel was well known before the four gospels were ever written.

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.  He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.  On the third day he will rise again.”[1]

Jesus Himself teaches us that in the prophets we can find a gospel about the messiah who will suffer, die and be raised to life again.  This is the gospel they had in the Old Testament and ironically what we have in the New Testament as well.  They had the credited righteousness of Abraham just as we do today.  They in the Old Testament had the hope of salvation when they believed in the gospel they had preached to them, just as we do today.  Which brings me to my third scriptural truth.

There is a belief by nearly all Bible believing believers that is anti-biblical.  This is the belief that men posses salvation, instead of hope for salvation as taught in scripture.  Just as the New Testament teaches all believers, our God is one who speaks things that are not as if they were.  Yet we reject this in our gospel and say we have what is not when it is spoken of as if it were, concerning our salvation.  When then ignore the hope of salvation held out in the gospel or make up the three tenses of salvation which goes against our gospel again.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.[2]

We have rejected all those scriptures that speak of the hope of salvation in scripture just as we have rejected those scriptures that speak of imputed grace given to Abraham and his descendants along with all those scriptures that speak of our gospel preached in the Old Testament.  It appears to me there are a lot of Bible believing believers who believe in the teachings of men more than what God has given us in scripture.

Since we have such anti-biblical beliefs in the church, and we ignore the three Biblical truths about our gospel, what good is the gospel we the church have put our hope in, since it has strayed from The Gospel According to the Gospel.

[1] Luke 18:31-33

[2] Romans 8:24-25

Removing things that were nailed to the cross

Here at The Gospel According to the Gospel it is advocated that the Old Testament saints had our very gospel preached to them.  This testimony is not my own.  Our New Testament teaches starting with Abraham and Moses the saints of the Old Testament had our gospel, our imputed righteousness, our hope of a savior and our hope of everlasting life.

The Law of Moses that was preached at Mt Sinai was our gospel according to the book of Hebrews.  Those saints put their hope in the gospel found in the Law not the Law of the faith.  They did not put their hope in the righteousness from the Law but put their hope in the righteousness that God have Abraham and his descendants.  Yet these saints still were required to obey the law.

In our day we have those who contend that we need to keep the Ten Commandments.  They advocate that we need to not murder, lust, steal, have other gods and we need to keep the Sabbath.  Usually with this line of thinking comes a strict observances of the Jewish fest days as well.

Recently I have been told by a believer that people who do not keep the Sabbath are not going to heaven.  They use the requirement of the Ten Commandments as our requirement to keep the Sabbath.  And of course they think that real believers keep all the feast days as well.  They say that not keeping the Jewish Sabbath is breaking the command of God and no Law breaker will get to heaven.

Even though I advocate strongly that the Old Testament has a faith (our gospel) found in the Law, I have never and never will go against scripture and teach that we need to observe any part of the Law to obtain the salvation we hope for.

We have the clear teaching that Christians are not obligated to observe Jewish feast days or the Sabbath.  These things have been nailed to the cross along with our sins. 

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.[1]

Those who wish to take these back off of the cross, are you willing to take your sins back off the cross too?

[1] Colossians 2:13-17