Addressed to: Traditional Christians
Prepared by: NA
February 21, 2009
- Schools and their Goals
- How about Churches
- My Graduation from the Church
- Results of leaving a Traditional Church
- An excuse for justifying no Graduation
- When Churches become hindrance
- Do not neglect the fellowships
- Defeating the Purpose and Plan of God for each Believer
- Who are the foolish virgins?
- Misunderstanding concerning Apostleship
- Looking for Special Invitation?
- The New vine
Schools & their Goals
Universities give degrees at the end of successfully completing the studies. At the end of a preset period, most students graduate and either get into a job, start a business or continue advanced studies. There are some who might take few extra years to reach these targets. But nobody continue to go back and sit at the school forever, no matter how enjoyable the school life is. Besides, the purpose of going to school was not to have a great time, but to equip us, prepare us to make a living (for ourselves) and be very productive contributing to society and mankind (for others).
The school experience varies in terms of quality of education, opportunities to have a great time, extra-curricular activities etc. Regardless of all such differences, the students are expected to reach their goals. In spite of how good the school is in preparing its students, the results vary. The exceptions are remarkable as well. We come across individuals who studied in great schools and are very unproductive, at the same time, we see individuals who have not been in a school but are very productive.
How about Churches?
While the school is preparing individuals to acquire a career for himself and to contribute values to society, the churches are preparing individuals to be blessed and equip them to become a blessing for many. Our life should become comparable to the tree that is planted next to the waters and bear fruit in its season (Psalms 1). Why do we expect the purpose of going to church any different in executing the goals although the methods may vary?
You may have been raised in one of the best churches in town. You may call it Protestant or Pentecostal or Lutheran or Catholic or Episcopal or London Mission. You have been singing songs, praying & listening to the teaching of the religion for several decades. Several years down the road you can see yourself doing very much the same thing.
Have you every taken a moment to evaluate the purpose of being in your church all these years. When will this process start benefiting you and make you productive?
My Graduation from the Church
The reason why most individuals do not graduate from churches may vary. I was sitting in a very reputed Pentecostal church for about 23 years. I was known as a good Christian based on the way I have dealt with other Christians. My knowledge in certain aspects of the Bible increased but I was very much dependent on the church and its ministers.
The church that we attended when growing up, we were taught that we were being prepared for eternity. The main theme of teaching was do not touch, do not taste, do not see, do not, do not, do not.
I never graduated from my church. I was a drop-out. I was never satisfied in terms of religion or spirituality. But during my final year of studies, when I got the opportunity to meet with some missionaries, I heard the gospel for the first time in my life. In about 3 months time, I found myself leading others (including friends and strangers) to Christ, not by effort but by simply answering to “curious questions” raised by them.
Most of my friends who grew up along with me in the reputed church either moved on to other churches or chose to stay and continue growing in their traditions.
Results of leaving a Traditional Church
Soon after I left my church, I was able to get saved. I noticed that I did not become a good person by becoming a child of God. Instead I started becoming aware of my badness. I stopped boasting on my abilities and hiding my inabilities, instead I started counting my abilities as nothing, and allowed my inabilities to be plain and open. Even though I did not understand the reason why I behaved like that, I realized later that, people who have inabilities where able to understand how they can be happy, full of joy and peace in spite of their inabilities, simply by becoming a child of God. I found myself boasting about who Jesus is instead of displaying my abilities or accomplishments (both material and spiritual) to others.
The human spirit can grow in Christ only after it has been regenerated (saved/reconciled/born again). I could be in the best church all my life. But if my Spirit has not been saved, my religion is what is growing which prevents the regeneration of my Spirit. My religion is prideful and is in opposition with my spirituality and if not dealt with, could become a stumbling block for my own Salvation. In my case, I was not saved instead I was simply trying to follow instructions presented by Teachers of the Law along with traditional practices.
An excuse for justifying no Graduation
My Graduation from Church does not stop me from going to church. I have realized the freedom I have in Christ. I can go to any organization believers or non-believers that request me to come and be a blessing. Or I can attend a church where I can continue to grow as a child of God.
If one or both of these things do not happen in the church where I am going, I have simply wasted my time. There is an excuse that people use for continuing to compromise their spirituality for going to church. They say that they are going to worship god. But it is surely an excuse for justifying their continued attendance to the church even when the purposes are not met. We surely do worship god in church. I was able to worship god in the same church I was in 23 years, not during that 23 years but after I went out, got saved, and then came back. I was able to worship in that church or in another church or in the quietness of my bedroom. But if a person is not able to worship god without depending on a church, there is a good possibility that that person’s spirit has not gone through regeneration. The church will continue to be a place where he simply go through the motions indeterminately.
Jesus addressed this situation to a women when she raised a question on where she should worship God. [John 4:21] But the hour is coming, when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, and the hour is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
When Churches become Hindrance
For a person who is reconciled with God, the church is a place where he can be a blessing to others while he himself can grow spiritually through receiving and giving.
But for a person who is not reconciled with God, the church is a great opportunity to hear the gospel and get reconciled with God and become a giver.
But many churches continue to breed a set of seasoned believers. So called full gospel churches that are not established recently, but are running 2nd and 3rd generation Christians are facing a dilemma. The biggest danger is that the gospel is not preached anymore. Unsaved people are not given the opportunity to recognize themselves as sinners, it could probably hurt their ego, after being a faithful believer for so many years how can one be defined as a sinner? They are ‘trained’ to behave certain way. The emphasis on the need for change from the inside by the renewing of the spirit is not there. Instead, the law is taught and people learn to live certain life style without violating the law (on the outside).
If the church consists primarily of individuals who were born and raised as Christians rather than people getting saved from other beliefs, this situation is very predominant. They have comfortably slid into a form of religion or rather Godliness, denying Gods Power, Faith & Love. The danger they face is that they never acknowledge that they need to get saved. God does not have favorites. Salvation is not a birth right, but a privilege that God has provisioned for all – ALL, including the ones that were raised in the church.
This is also a result of believers not graduating and taking roles as light to the dark world outside and giving room for non-believers to come in, accommodating them along with their infirmities.
Do not neglect the fellowships
There is still a big dilemma concerning fellowship, church organizations and church services. If the organizations can be used for the purpose of fellowship, let us go for it. If churches promote fellowship, let’s have more and more churches. But let’s not forget the purpose. The purpose is fellowship and not routine rituals.
Jesus himself did not establish any church organizations but did have fellowship wherever and whenever opportunities presented. And there were times when he specifically initiated fellowships as well. Sometimes it was just Him (and God). Sometimes it was Him and 3 disciples, sometimes it was Him and the 12 disciples, sometimes it was him and the 12 and the 70 disciples, and sometimes it was him and a multitude of people. And there were those times when he left the multitude and went after one person. He substantiated that with the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the prodigal son and few other parables.
Paul one time had to mention not take the fellowship lightly but be a part taker in gatherings. People almost always misunderstand this request made by Paul and use that as a reason to justify their membership in the never graduating school of believers. Their entire foundation of church attendance is simply based on this request made by Paul. But who was Paul talking to and what was the circumstances that lead him to this request?
Paul was addressing to the believers who were so busy evangelizing in the streets and wherever possible that they did not give any priority to get together for fellowship. There is a need for fellowship where believers can edify one another, share their experiences and help each other become more and more aware on the works of the Holy Spirit through them. However, this request really does not apply to Believers, who merely associate their religion to routine church services and taking no concern for the people who are perishing outside the church due to lack of gospel.
Defeating the Purpose and Plan of God for each Believer
The plan and purpose of God is to equip every believer to become His representation in this world so that he can become light to the darkness in which he once belonged. [Mathew 5:14] Your light should shine to all [all who are in darkness]. If the salt does not have flavor, what is it good for? When we read this we think that He is talking about sinners. But no, sinners have more chance to repent and be born again. He is really concerned about the people who call themselves believers or ministers.
There are churches where the ministers claim to be better than those serving in other churches simply based on the fact that they have denied certain responsibilities of life. These responsibilities are often mis-represented using the word ‘pleasures of life’. And the never graduating believers take pride in saying that their ministers sacrificially committed and ‘available’ in times of need and therefore belong to the highest class of its type.
This sounds very pleasing to the never graduating believer since he is not equipped to be self sufficient anyway. Instead he is always depended on the ministers to reach out to god for their sake. The question to be raised here is – What are the believers believing in? Where is their hope & trust? Are those branches connected directly to the wine? Or are they standing on another person’s relationship with God? Jesus defined himself as the wine and declared that unless the branches reside in the wine, they cannot do anything.
In the parable of 10 virgins where 5 of them did not have oil for themselves were considered foolish by Jesus (although they were virgins). When the actual need came, the ones who had the oil told the ones without the oil that they should go find their own. It is a sad rather scary story. The enemy has taken so much victory in this matter and continues to keep people hostage, people who could have been mighty men and women of God have become hostage to this religion.
Who are the foolish virgins?
If you are a believer, you are one of the 10 virgins that Jesus has represented in [Luke 19:13]. However, if you have been a believer for a period of time(3 months, 6 months, couple of years, whatever it takes for you to come to the realization), and if you still find yourself depending on ministers to take care of your situation, you are one of the 5 foolish virgins out of the 10.
If at all you depend on the minister, it should be to equip yourself as well, not to make yourself a dependent for ever. You keep running to your minister to pray for your sickness, your exam, your struggles, your whatever. Stop doing that, establish relationship with God directly through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the only mediator who has set you free from everything. Do whatever it takes to be directly connected to Him. Read the parable of the Hidden Treasure [Mathew 13:44] a man after finding valuable treasure in a field, went and sold everything he had and purchased that field. That shows his willingness to give up everything.
You should be willing to do anything and everything, to accomplish that connection or rather relationship. That includes your religion, be willing to let go your religion, your traditions, your pride, your dignity, your knowledge, etc and don’t give rest until you get reconciled with God. If you are not willing to let go of everything you have. Your minister should have been instrumental in you accomplishing this, if it did not happen within a reasonable period of time, you are wasting your time, your life and your opportunities. Seek without giving yourself any rest and then when you find that, come back and strengthen your brothers & your ministers as well.
Misunderstanding concerning Apostleship
Apostles are believers who were ‘sent’ to preach the gospel, followed by signs, wonders and miracles. They go to places, usually where gospel has not reached yet, stay for a period, establish a body of believers and move on.
Apostleship has nothing to do with denial. Paul himself has given account to the nature of apostleship in different individuals. [1 Corinthians 9:5] “Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas (Peter).”
Looking for special invitation?
A lot of us are waiting for God to ‘call’ us to his ministry. We often hear ministers saying “there was a call in my life”. But God is calling everybody to repentance. He cannot show favoritism in his calling. Salvation is provisioned for all. Once we get saved we are expected to receive the Holy Spirit by faith and become his witness – that is spontaneous. And as we become faithful in what is entrusted with us, God will lead us to more things. He may call one person this way and another person for a different purpose, but he is calling every one.
The new vine
The Bible says that once we receive the power from above, we automatically become His witness. If we do not receive power from above, we are either not saved, or we do not acknowledge ourselves as unworthy. We are probably trying to make ourselves worthy enough to receive the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said that the new wine cannot be poured into old skin since it will tear the skin. The new wine represents the Holy Spirit through the new covenant based on Gods Love and not based on our eligibility. The old wine represents the Law and the commandment. The law was not given when the people were still on slavery, it was given after they crossed over. The church and the religious organizations often teach the law to the unsaved body of ‘believers’ while they are still slaves to sin.
First of all, salvation has to be received by faith, this will bring freedom from sin. Freedom from sin does not mean that the person stop sinning. What it means is that the person used to not have a choice, but now he does have a choice since he is no more under the bondage of sin, but he needs the help of the Holy Spirit to make the right decisions to bring his mind and body under subjection. Holy Spirit has to be received by faith and not through self justification.
And finally when we stand before Him, there will be only one question. Did we do the will of the Father?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven [Mathew 7:21].
Let us not find ourselves saying, Oh Lord, I was in that church, or the other church, and I attended every service that I possibly could. Instead, we should hear Him call us Faithful Servants. How can we qualify to be called faithful servants when all we did was ‘sit’?
Sitting in Gods presence is the best feeling one can ever have while he is still in this world. All tangible dimensions that give us awareness of existence including time can become invisible. There are no words to explain how good it is to be able to sit in the presence of God. The disciples who were at the mount of transfiguration experienced a fraction of that and they said “let us put up some tents and sit here”. But Jesus said, I have work to do, I have to do the will of my Father.
We are expected to seek and find for ourselves what our Father wants us to do. It is the Holy Spirit that leads our life, not our minister or the pastor. The Holy Spirit may use our brothers & sisters to confirm what we originally heard directly from Him. The role of the minister is to lead us to the point where the Holy Spirit takes over. Once we receive the Holy Spirit, we are expected to become His Servants.
He did not save us to sit and be permanent hearers of the word or the Law. The objective was for us to be doers of the word that we hear.
For many of us, a willingness to give up what we have, what we enjoy best, what we take for granted, is not something we consider compromising. There is no such thing as a Perfect Church in this world. Even if you find one, you are not called to SIT there. You are expected to graduate as quickly as you can and move on to becoming a blessing for many. But instead people sometimes go from one church to another until they find the right type of environment and people with whom they can identify themselves, get acceptance and slide in.
Leaving my church was also not an easy task for me. I left because I did not want to continue fooling myself. But now, that I was able to receive Salvation and Enjoy the presence of God, I can go back to the same church that I left behind and can have fellowship whenever wherever opportunity presents. How about you?