Of the Word of Christ or the Cross of Constantine?
Are we following the true original uplifting quickening spiritual guidance of a "Christ" Savior of faith, following the universal Commandments to "love God", and our fellow man? (Luke 10:27) or has religion succumbed to the "cross"; the tricks and traps of commercial oriented entertainment, creeds, dogma and charismatic showmanship?
Do we heed the Christ; "(Matthew 5: 20) "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven “..."And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others."
Jesus explicitly warns," Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:21-23)
Of False Pharisees, Prophets and Priests:
Looking at what Jesus addresses to the teachers of the law;
Be it synagogue or church.
Here are links to subjects of interest.
Jesus addreses the Jewish teachers. He has many issues; calling them "hypocrites", for they do not practice what they preach. Much of what they do is for show and to impress people. The Law is used for their own purpose. Jistice, mercy and forgiveness are not practiced, only a strict letter of the Law is inforced. Note: this is one of the few times Jesus appears to be really angry and frustrated.
Matthew 23:1-39 New International Version (NIV) 23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  [b]
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."’
Are the Pharisees committing major errors in the sight of God? Might they be misrepresenting the truth of the Word; being bound in their laws, rituals and practices; these of their own making? Are the Pharisees substituting thir own schooled education and tradition for the Word of God? Could the Jewish authority of old be guilty of erecting a "temple of knowledge" using a mortar and stone foundation based on favorite select passages of scripture while conveniantly laying aside the rest? Jesus also cries out to the Pharisees,"you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you," Also in Matthew 3:33 ," Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth,"
How often are messengers and prophets, peoples of other traditions or those using differing names for God rejected, banished, tortured and killed in the name of God? Note: Chritians may well say" Jesus was more than just a prophet," however, it does seem clear, Jesus thought highly of the Prophets; Prophets such as Abraham, Noah and Moses. Remember these other prophets who were "sent", as Jesus says he was "sent".
Now, some two thousand years later, let us take a look at modern day churches. how do many fundamental church teachings, rituals, practices and big business stack up against the "Seven Woes" of Christ? Is there a repeating pattern going on?
Revelation 3:12-13 King James Bible "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Is Revelation 3:12 challenging accepted mainstream church teachings; especially those who worship the name of Jesus Jesus, or Jesus as born of an earthly mother, or Jesus himself as having the authority of God? ( see John 6:38 and John 14:10 among others.)
Below are Bible verses that do indeed challenge church teachings held dear by their congregations.
But, Jesus himself teaches:
John 6:37-38 KJB "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
Jesus makes clear, He is the Bread of Life that came down from Heaven (not born in a manger). His essence of Truth is the Word which is of heaven; not a physical man to be worshipped. Also, the Will of the Father is all important, not the specific name of Jesus. The last thing Jesus would have wanted is to be worshipped as substitute to the Father!
Luke 10:21-22 KJB "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight."
For more on the mystery of the begotten Son of God check this out:
Jesus is worshipped as author and inerrant godhead of his own teachings.
But, Jesus himself teaches:
10:22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
John 12:47-50 KJB "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 12:50 And I know that his [God's] commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (KJ Bible, John)
John 14:9-11 New King James Version " Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."
the words "My Name" are often seen throughout the Bible.
First, Jesus himself testifies:
John 14:13-14 KJB " And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you."
In the above, John records Jesus as stating " ask in my name and it will be done". From this, it can easily be understood why Christians may well believe "my name" does indeed refer to specifically Jesus and only Jesus.
Before we jump to conclusions though let us look and see what else the Bible has to say about "My Name".
Near the end of his ministry, Jesus says: John 14:25-31 KJB " He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 14:25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 14:29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 4:31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
Is the Comforter; the Holy Ghost the Father will send in my name, a spirit that dwells inside us? Or is the Comforter a Prince of this earthly world destined to come in the future? For those who would simply believe Jesus' promised return is limited to a "Holy Spirit" I would ask: then what do the passages "for the prince of this world cometh," or" , I go away, and come again unto you." mean? What is the meaning of,"Cometh and hath nothing in me,"? Is this Prince different than Jesus yet, in other ways, the same? If so, is a new name possible?
A simple online search quickly shows Scripture throughout the Bible has revealed a long legacy of "my name" usage. Jeremiah, 1 Kings, Deuteronomy, 2 Chronicles are good example of how, around 600 years before Jesus, "my name" is seen as denoting or honoring God.
Come to think of it though, John 14:13 does not really stand apart from other Bible references to "my name" especially if the words preached by Jesus are seen as not being authored by himself, but rather, the Word of Truth (God) that sent him; in other words, the Word of the Lord, not Jesus. As such "my name", as in other scriptures in the Old and New Testament alike, is also seen as addressing and honoring the Lord God Himself; again, not the flesh and blood Jesus of Nazareth. ( To see one of several phrases by John , as seen in 12:49 stating ," these words are not my own"click here )
Old Testament examples where "My Name" is used in Scripture..
Of interest here, the term "my name" was in usage long before Jesus. Old Testement sources , including Deuteronomy, 1 Kings and Jeremiah all use " my name " in much the same way Jesus did. How then can " my name " refer to only Jesus? is their another meaning or other way this title can be interpreted? Could it be used for honoring someone?
Deuteronomy 18:18-20 KJB "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. (King James Bible, )
2 Chronicles 6:5-6 KJB "Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel: 6:6 But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel."
Again, if "My Name" can be figuratively used about 600 years before Jesus' time, how can Jesus be "My Name"? Obviously, "My Name" nust be symbolic speech for an eternal God.
1 Kings 25:5-6 KJB " And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name: 25:6 And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast."
and again, some 600 years before Jesus, Jeremiah writes:
Jeremiah 14:14-15 KJB " 14:14 "Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.14:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed."
This verse sounds very much like Matthew 7:21-22 and other Bible passages written some 600 years later.
Matthew 7:21-22 KJB " 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."
Is there a recurring pattern here?
Is both Jeremiah and Matthew saying: Those who set themselves up as priests and self appointed prophets prophesying false vision and divination and not truly sent by God, are guilty of impersonation?"I wonder what is going on in the present day priesthood, as seen by the eyes of God? How do many modern church pastors compare with the Pharisees of yesteryear?
Here there seems to be a contradiction with the above. (see Matthew 7:21 Vs Mark 16:17)
Mark 16:17-19 KJB "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
( Is Mark the only Gospel in which this is written? )
Yet, earlier in the Gospel Mark writes:
13:3 "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 13:4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? 13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 13:6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (King James Bible, Mark)
Again in Matthew: 4:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (King James Bible, Matthew)
The phrase " my name " was used long before Jesus' time. Just what is the meaning of "my name"? click here for more study on a Savior coming with a New Name:
Did Jesus literally atone for our sins through offering up his blood as a ransom payment on the cross? This pivotal church doctrine, lying at the heart of the belief paradigm of countless church-goers, is Biblically scrutinized.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Many Christians believe that "God sacrificed His one and only Son as a ransom through which the sins of all who believe will be cleansed by the blood of the lamb". John 3:16 is often quoted as Biblical proof of Jesus being the physical begotten son of God. Looking at what is recorded from the teachings of Jesus himself is essential in attempting to understand the meanings behind "Son" and begotten".
Revelation 1:5 New King James Version (NKJV) "and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed [freed] us from our sins in His own blood, " Footnote: [a] Revelation 1:5 NU-Text reads loves us and freed; M-Text reads loves us and washed.
Just what does this verse really mean? "washed " and "freed", in common usage, are two very different words. Yet these two words are used in different translations in the same location of an ancient text.
Could the word "life" be just as easily inserted instead of "blood"? Remember, "blood" symbolized life in ancient Hebrew thinking. Also, Revelations is not directly quoting Jesus. This could just as easily be a form of some early church doctrine. Now, does not "freed in the life" sound better than "bathed or washed by the blood? One sounds so barbaric and blood thirsty; the other, spiritually enlightening.
1 Peter 2:24 New King James Version (NKJV) "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed."
Romans 5:8 New King James Version (NKJV) "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 King James Bible "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."
1 Corinthians 15:3 King James Bible " For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
The foregoing leads one to ask: Just what "scriptures" is Paul referring to in 1 Corinthians 15:3? Looking online, I found very little in this regard; just a lot of speculation and theory.
Note: Only writings of Paul and Peter, such as found in Romans,1st Thessalonians and 1st Peter, on a computer search " died for us " or "bore our sins", were the only Biblical references for Jesus dying for our sins. Other searches yielded passages from, at most, one or two other Apostles. Yet. how often do we hear this," died for our sins," Doctrine preached, with strongest conviction, from the church pulpit?
To build a whole foundational theology based on a few lines of scripture; not recorded as having been said by Jesus himself but, authored by only three or four of His twelve Apostles!
I guess Apostolic Tradition is really what much of this is all about. As for myself, I would rather focus as much as possible on the direct teachings of Jesus himself than on the Apostles who were his followers, or students of his followers, as Ordained by Church Bishops under an ancient emperor; All books of the Bible being selected and Canonized as authors of an inerrant Word of God. Yes, eyewitness accounts notwithstanding, there does seem to be a big difference between Jesus and the understanding of His Apostles; especially in later years as various church politics and doctrines come into play.
Bible references to Jesus saying." these words I speak are not my own," or," Did we not do miracles and prophecy in your name?" wherein Jesus replies," Get away from me Satan," along with," Coming in a New Name...or, as a thief in the night," etc. are conveniently dismissed.
For more on Jesus and His sacrifice, click here:
In various Bible scriptures the disciples ask Jesus privately about signs for the end times. Included are passages describing "when these things shall be fulfilled". A warning for the churches is also seen in the same scriptures.
Mark13:5-8,21-22 KJB "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 13:6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
13:7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 13:8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows...
13:21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."
Might Mark 13: 6 and 13: 21-22 be referring to many present day priests and churches, who extol and worship Jesus' name as a substitution for God; even though Jesus himself makes it clear we are to worship ",our Father who art in Heaven," as directed in the Lord's Prayer?
More is found in the Gospels concerning those "coming in my (Jesus) name", preaching their version of the Word of Christ.
Matthew 24:3-13 KJB "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Is this a description of present day arguments, quarrels, bloodshed and wars between families, friends, nations and priests? Has the "love of many waxed cold"? How about the phrase," and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." It must be asked at this point; How much does the name of "Jesus, as" expounded by the churches, the name "Jehovah"or the name of Allah as uttered by the Mosques; with each religion claiming exclusive right to God's favor; How much does this paradigm of thinking fan the flames of strife and enmity? What atrocities have been comitted in the name of God?
Luke 21:7-9,25-28 KJB "And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. 21:9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by... 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man [of the same Word spoken by Jesus, the anointed of Christ] coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."
In some studies, the "sun, moon and stars are symbolic of rulers and priests. As for. "21:27" Perhaps "cloud" means "hidden" People may not recognize His Coming yet, indeed, He will come, as a thief in the night, with power and glory. (See below)
2 Peter 3:10 KJB " But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
I ask: How can one come as an unexpected "thief in the night" and yet create such devastation? For that matter, How does this "devastation" and "burning up" relate to Revelation 21:4 KJB "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
The Rapture notwithstanding ( as taught by some churches), It does seem clear," Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven," ( Mattthew, 6:10) portends a future Kingdom of God right here on Earth.
Might DivineDestiny Decree, as in the time of the Pharisees, that tradition and dogma be tested and found wanting; that teachings of clergy and authority may well lead seekers of the Light astray; not encouraging them to look freely but confining them to age old traditions and habits of men?
Might, in the eyes of Divine Will, it be ordained that specific divisive damaging doctrines of inherited only-one-way, single name, exclusive type ideologies be relegated to the past?Are there meanings here beyond what appears on the surface? Meanings beyond what may be taught within the walled cloistered churches of men?
I began to wonder if many of the Christian churches themselves were on the wrong track. Was it prudent to place so much faith and trust in the clergy; to blindly accept at face value, without question, whatever may be preached from the pulpit? This, almost as if whatever is said is ordained by the Word of God itself! Is it wise to emphasize the name and person of Jesus seemingly above all else, to emphasize and reemphasize time and again, our negative sinful nature and need for salvation that can come only throughthe death of Jesus on the cross? The various Sacraments, rituals and dogma; the cross seen on most churches; the invitation to "come into God's house and worship Jesus as " the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world... have mercy upon us"; the need to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, the only sacrifice acceptable before God: This and much more; in light of many Bible scriptures themselves, appears to truly be the wrong emphasis on the Message Jesus brought.
With this "Jesus only" thinking and preachers claiming true knowledge and understanding of their only Word of God, the Bible; With so many sermons expounding the preacher's own version of what Jesus Christ was all about; again, according to their own learning and understanding; luring people in as a means of salvation: Is it really to our spiritual advantage to be "churched"? Truly, it almost seems the church authority figures themselves are indeed,"Coming in My Name, saying I am Christ".
Churches now have become a big business. Many come to a service more as a social function than as a place to worship God. Fancy halls and buildings are erected to attract the multitudes. They all claim some form of exclusivity, professing a more complete or better understanding or direct path to God than their competition.
Matthew sums up much of what is being written here. How do the churches and activities of many Christians see themselves in the following verses?
Matthew 7:1-27 KJB " Judge not, that ye be not judged. 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 7:4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 7:5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
One symptom too often seen in present day churches is the capacity to judge.Tthe question," have you excepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?" followed by the answer," If not, you are going to Hell!" is a very blunt, sorely repeated saying. By what right does anyone have the right to judge the relationship between God and another person? I can hardly think of a poorer public relations scheme or offense to the Golden Rule! Does this really sound like Jesus at all or is this symptomatic of a deeper disease of decadence?
7:7 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
Many seem to be afraid to search and discover meanings for themselves. These people would rather rely on church authority to provide the answers and means of attainment of knowledge. Bible studies are carefully orchestrated. Questions, outside the norm are discouraged.
A real fear of outside influence, or being led astray, has been literally imprinted on the human psche for millenium. I have even been told, Asking fundamental question is,"not showing respect in God's house."
7:13 " Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Misleading, deceptive teachings abound, especially from men who would instill fear into the hearts of people urging them to simply have faith and trust their respective organized churches, mosques and synagogues to provide the ticket allowing entrance through the doors of heaven. Complacency, comfort, wealth, formal education and training coupled with multi-generational habits and tradition; can often provide an emotional, psychological feeling of satisfaction. I dare say, many simply attend religious services as a social function. Few ever think to investigate matters for themselves. The church has done a very good job promoting itself as laying forth the narrow path to salvation.
Who are the false prophets? What are the ravening wolves? Here is an idea. Many teachers, priests. pastors and the like can easily be seduced by showmanship and public display. Huge churches with many areas of social entertainment facilities are proliferating across the land. Evangelism has become big business. Enticements and slogans are fed to the masses urging them to come and join the festivities.
Many church teachings and activities seem geared to causing congregational dependency on church molded habits. in addition, a nurtured sense of fellowship and belonging, as well as offering a good time, is had by all. How much of all this is geared towards coffers of money, and how much is truly concerned with the Word of the Father? One of the signs for the end times is when," the Gospel will have been heard all over the world". Modern media has made this more routinely possible than ever before. Yet, at the same time, this added advertising, leading to a carefully pyschologically manipulated presence, has contributed to greater financial riches among the churches; particularily the large highly visible mega-churches. More advertising = a calling for more donations. More donations = more adds. More income drives the need to expand thereby allowing more income, more show and prestige for the preacher. Where might the " ravening wolves" be?
Matthew goes on to say,7:16 "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;"... "Ye shall know them by their fruits." These quotes from Matthew seem to contradict an often heard admonition voiced in church halls, campuses, and sunday school rooms;" You had best not look for answers without the guidance of ordained church fathers. If left by yourselve to your own devices, you may well end up being led astray. Satan is a master deciever. If you fall for his ploys all hope for you may be lost. You must have faith!" Yet, Matthew encourages us saying we can look, we can judge for ourselves the right and wrong of things; We can judge by their fruits! I see little about satan and his trickery, but churches use this fear tactic all too often for keeping those who would search for themselves obediantly submissively towing the line.
Matthew continues,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."
The previous phrase is astonishing! It seems to directly address much of the behavior I have witnessed in certain churches. They repeatedly call on Jesus' name while calling him Lord, they cast out demons in the name of Jesus, some prophesy by "speaking in tongues", many claim healing. But, through all of this turmoil and crowd euphora, I hear very little about following the Will of the Father which is in heaven. WOW!
7:24 "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
This last verse deals with faith and foundations of faith. If faith is based on sound independent knowledge, where reason, science, art and other God given attributes of mankind can flourish; then faith is well founded and becomes like a rock. Faith has grown and, in so doing, broken free of superstition and vain imaginings. If faith is simply accepted on faith; when reason and God given attributes of mankind are mired in the pit of infatuation, fanaticism, and superstition; then this "blind faith, inherited for generations and passed down by creed and ritual, becomes somthing else.
Bahá'u'lláh writes to the preachers of Christendom:
Bahá'u'lláh writes, ",He saith: O ye that are foolish, yet have a name to be wise! Wherefore do ye wear the guise of the shepherd, when inwardly ye have become wolves, intent upon My flock? Ye are even as the star, which riseth ere the dawn, and which, though it seem radiant and luminous, leadeth the wayfarers of My city astray into the paths of perdition.
And likewise He saith: O ye seeming fair yet inwardly foul! Ye are like clear but bitter water, which to outward seeming is crystal pure but of which, when tested by the Divine Assayer, not a drop is accepted. Yea, the sunbeam falls alike upon the dust and the mirror, yet differ they in reflection even as doth the star from the earth: nay, immeasurable is the difference!"(Bahá'u'lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 118)
Something to think about.