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Tuesday, April 24 2012
The Church Today
Studies in this series:
Jesus Christ (see Appearances Of The LORD God and What Does Word of God Mean To You?) created everything, including His Church (see The Church In The Garden). While many men and women have been creators of their "churches" (see Is Your Religion Your Religion?), Jesus Christ is the one and only Creator of His Church, His people.
"1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood [see Innocent Blood], even the forgiveness of sins [see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners]: 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Jesus Christ is the one and only Leader of His church, His people (see Can You See The Church?).
"1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:12-18 KJV)
The "Christian" world today is composed of billions of people - most of whom are yet to truly become Christian. Whether Roman Catholic or "Protestant," they remain followers of the man-made doctrines of the Church of the Roman Empire (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy, A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad and Antichristians; also Why Observe The True Sabbath?). Until then, as honest and well-meaning that they may be, they are, in reality, victims of a great deception that is made possible by their not yet having the means to understand. They aren't evil; they are deceived. So, until the time of their awareness, sooner (see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin) or later (see The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean?), "I never knew you."
"7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23 KJV)
Does that mean that the true Church of God (which is composed of people as described in the verses above, after the LORD called them to conversion - there is no favoritism in the Will of God) is "perfect"? Not hardly. In many ways, the merely Christian-professing world lives in far more peace and harmony than the true Church of God because Satan will do all that he can to make the deceived, false "Christians" look good, while causing as much internal strife and public negativity as he can to those who have been called to overcome the "world" as it yet exists.
Satan has always targeted the true Church of God (see The Church In The Wilderness), in two ways. The first, an endless bombardment of false and perverted pseudo-Biblical doctrines of men's self-worshipping ideas and self-righteous lusts. A false gospel:
"1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 1:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The second is the Satanic idea that some human must stand in place of Christ as the "leader" of Christ's church. The Messiah first warned His people in a general way that they were not to strive to take His place, "a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest."
"22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." (Luke 22:24-26 KJV)
Then, a more specific and direct warning to those who claim to be "masters" ("mister" is the same word in English), when "for one is your Master, even Christ" i.e. "for one is your Mister, even Christ"
"23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Nevertheless, some didn't obey and heed Christ's warning - just as some don't obey and heed that same warning today. "Diotrephes" didn't just exist in the ancient times.
"1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
"Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good"
The "book" of Revelation is actually a letter, originally written by the apostle John to contemporary (i.e. existing at the same time) Christians in seven cities in what is today western Turkey. At the time of the writing, John was being held as a prisoner of the Romans on the island of Patmos, just off the nearby coast (see the map below).
While some have decided for themselves that those seven churches were successive church "eras" over the past 2,000 years (such an interpretation has been a particular favorite of various mind-control cults who today claim themselves to be just one of those churches - it's their primary psychological tactic that they use to dominate their members i.e. "if you leave or get put out from us, you lose your salvation because we are the only true church"; see Is Your Church A Cult?), those real-life seven churches existed at the same time that John sent those letters to them.
As well, the attitudes and behavior that the LORD addressed about them have always existed, right from that ancient time to the present. Anyone who honestly and humbly reads what the Messiah wrote to those people (as it was actually written in the Holy Scriptures, "church" means a group of people - nothing more) can recognize, from all of the seven, people and attitudes that exist today, even within some single large group of Christians.
The people at Ephesus were diligent, vigorous Christians who had problems with ambitious men who claimed themselves to be "apostles," but the people there were not fooled: "thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." They nevertheless were affected by it and had declined from the Word of God to the word of a man.
"2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2:2 I know thy works [see Works Means Obedience], and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars [see The Warning About Grievous Wolves and False Christs and Anti-Christs]: 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
The people of Smyrna were Christians who remained true to the LORD at great cost to themselves in persecution. Unlike the rich Christians of Ephesus, the Christians of Smyrna were financially poor.
"2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, but thou art rich, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are The Synagogue of Satan. 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into Prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death [see What Happens When You Die? and When Will You Be Judged?], and I will give thee a crown of life.
The people of Pergamos (or Pergamum) were also Christians who held strong amidst great persecution, but they decided for themselves that the dietary laws were "done away." They were also lax in their morality - to which the LORD commanded them to repent.
"2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 2:13 I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is [see Satan's Throne]: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr [see Martyrs], who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
The people at Thyatira were overall very righteous, but unlike the people of Ephesus who had male misleaders, the people of Thyatira had female misleaders who were creating an environment of sexual and spiritual immorality - and of ignoring the dietary laws (the two carnal-level "pleasures" of illicit sex and unclean food are often found together). "New truth" was also being introduced even though God warns not to add humanistic ideas to His Truth "22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18 KJV)
"2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works [see Faith and Works]; and the last to be more than the first.
Most of the people of Sardis were Christians who had grown weary of overcoming, to which the LORD commanded them to "strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die."
"3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God [see Perfection]. 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast [see Bulwarks Of The Truth], and Repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee [see Could Christ Return Tonight?].
The people of Philadelphia were Christians who were faithful and active in their preaching, but many among them were make-believe Jews. It's good to be a Jew, if you're a Jew, but acting like someone that you're not is foolish - and unnecessary. Christianity is equally open to everyone, Jew or "gentile," male or female, from any nation on earth. True Christianity isn't about where, or from whom, by sheer chance, you happened to be born, but what you do with the Truth after God gives it to you.
"3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth [see The Keys To The Kingdom]; 3:8 I know thy works [see Works Means Obedience]: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 3:9 Behold, I will make them of The Synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth [see Never Before, Never Again].
The people of Laodicea were Christians who had become "politically correct" and timid (see Who Has A Spirit Of Confrontation?) in an effort to live in peace with a world that hates the Truth.
"3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God [see Christ The Creator]; 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me Gold Tried In The Fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Fact Finder: What was the true "cross" of Jesus Christ?
This Day In History, April 24
1479 BC: Thutmose III ascended to the throne of Egypt.
1533: William the Silent, prince of Orange, was born. He led the revolution against Spanish rule and helped create an independent Netherlands.
1547: Holy Roman Emperor Charles V defeated the Protestants at Muehlberg, near Leipzig, Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire).
1558: Mary Queen of Scots, at age 16, married the dauphin of France, the future Francois II.
1877: Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1884: Otto von Bismarck cabled Capetown to inform them that South Africa was then a German colony.
1898: Spain declared war on the United States after receiving a U.S. ultimatum to withdraw from Cuba.
1906: William Joyce, U.S.-born British Nazi collaborator during the Second World War, was born. He broadcast German propaganda to Britain, where he earned the nickname "Lord Haw-Haw." He was later hanged for treason.
1916: The Easter Rising in Dublin, an insurrection aimed at setting up an Irish Republic, began.
1918: During the First World War, the first tank-to-tank combat, at Villers-Bretonneux, France; British Mark IVs versus German A7Vs.
1921: The Tyrol region of central Europe voted for union with Germany.
1932: Nazis made German election gains in Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Hamburg (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1945: Allied troops liberated the Dachau concentration camp.
1950: The Kingdom of Jordan was formed by the union of Jordanian-occupied Palestine and the Kingdom of Transjordan ("Transjordan" means across the Jordan; see also Beyond Jordan).
1953: Winston Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
1957: The Suez Canal was reopened after UNEF peacekeepers entered the region.
1967: Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed when his spacecraft crashed in Russia after 17 orbits of the earth.
1980: Eight U.S. servicemen died in Operation Eagle Claw, an attempt by President Jimmy Carter to rescue the Iran hostages.
1981: The "IBM Personal Computer" was introduced.
1986: The Duchess of Windsor, born in the U.S. as Wallis Warfield, died at age 89. Her marriage, as a divorced woman, to King Edward VIII led to his abdication in 1936.
1990: The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into earth orbit.
1990: West and East Germany agreed to merge their currency and economies on the next July 1.
1992: Scientists working with the COBE satellite announced that their data showed hot and cold "ripples" in space which indicated proof of the "big bang". Stephen Hawking called it "the discovery of the century, if not all time." Project leader George Smoot said, "If you are religious, it's like looking at God."
1996: Russian President Boris Yeltsin met Chinese President Jiang Zemin at the start of a visit to Beijing hailed by both sides as signaling a new relationship between them.