Recently, I have been reading the book ‘The Power of the Blood of Jesus’ by Andrew Murray. The teaching in this book has opened my eyes to the truths about the blood of Jesus Christ contained in scripture in a way that nothing else ever has. In fact, I can’t remember ever having read, or in fact heard, any teaching on this subject which is as in-depth or as revelatory as this. Murray is not alone in his studies on this subject, many authors and speakers have dealt with it over the centuries. However, this particular book is a classic and has been well-read and accepted as a sound theological treatise. In my lifetime, this has been a revolutionary and challenging book to read and I feel I am going to have to re-read it quite a few times. Our whole family in fact have been reading the book and discovering more and more about the wonderful salvation which is so freely available to all in the death of Jesus on the Cross.
The more I think about the power of the blood and how it cleanses and makes us fit to approach the throne of God, the more I realise how this fact also changes everything else about my walk with Jesus and in fact our lives and the history of our family up to this point.
Our family spent 15 years (1989-2004) in an abusive group called Brisbane Christian Fellowship. Much has been written about this particular organisation, and I won’t insult the church of Jesus Christ by calling it a church. It is a religious institution…that is all. There may well be true believers in its midst and the Holy Spirit will lead them out sooner or later. Strangely, when we left, we were told we were leaving them because we ‘were not of them’, a reference to the scripture 1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
In fact, they themselves were not of Christ. There was nothing which manifested in that place which was of Christ and despite the fact that they held communion and preached on the significance of ‘the one table’ for the whole body, they were woefully inadequate and in fact mostly wrong in both their exegesis of the meaning of communion and the execution of their offices as ‘elders’.
Steve and I have often discussed what it was that kept us in this place for so long. In essence, it was a lack of understanding of the true gospel. The whole time we were there we strove to be one with the members of the congregation, yet there was always a sense that we were failing and we couldn’t work out why. The elders would have had us believe that we were not obeying them and this was the result of it. We continually felt ashamed, oppressed and worn out. What was lacking was the realisation that we were trying to become one with darkness and there is simply no fellowship of darkness and light. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
We thought we had to somehow make ourselves fit to be members of the body of Christ and that somehow our actions or our acceptability to others (especially the elders) would ensure our acceptance into that body .It was a terrible thing to live with. We felt in our spirits always at odds with what our minds were telling us. We believed we were members of the body, yet we continually worked to gain acceptance into it. We were told on some occasions that we were ‘accepted in the beloved’ from the pulpit, and yet it was clear that there was an overarching yet subtle rejection of us as members of this group. We questioned why this was at every possible juncture. We asked people to our house and were rejected. We wondered why others were asked to go away on vacation but not us. We tried to be part of things like the ‘young marrieds’ group and were told that there were not enough spaces. There were plenty of opportunities for us to involve ourselves in the activities and social life of this place, yet over and over, we walked away with the impression that we were never really quite making it. An astounding observation in a group of people who claimed to be members of the body of Christ.
We had been part of a smaller church which had joined the larger congregation of BCF. We were told that we were joining with them in person because in Spirit we were all one in Christ and that we should rejoice that we were becoming part of the larger body. This was not only illogical it was a completely wrong reason to become part of BCF. If, in fact, (and it is true) we are all one in Spirit and regardless of where we live in the world we are all part of the Body of Christ, then we do not need to come together as one whole body in one place at one time every week. It makes no difference where we are. In fact, it is neither practical nor necessary to do so. We were lied to by the elders who agreed to join with BCF and we were also coerced into believing that this group of people were in fact actually part of the body of Christ in the first place.
Many times we were told as a congregation that we may not even be saved. A lack of assurance in our salvation was a very central part of the abuse that these men heaped upon their people. When we left, we thought that this was why we had always felt that we were disjointed as it were while we were in the group. Their explanation was ‘you were not really of us – they said we were not part of the body of Christ because in their parlance, that is what the ‘us’ means. It meant they were part of the body of Christ, or more specifically, they believe they ARE the body of Christ in Brisbane and all true believers should join them. If fact, all they do is begin new works in various places and hijack other people’s congregations or else encourage lost and hurting Christians to join them in the hope that this is a place where they will find their true calling. Again, it is all a lie.
For many years I questioned the ‘once saved always saved’ message. I believe now that this falls very far short of understanding what ‘saved’ even means. If we are able to come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, and understand what the blood of Jesus Christ has done for us, and we get well and truly converted and continue on in the faith (‘if we endure to the end we are saved’) as all who are given a revelation of this truth will do,I am convinced of it then there will be a mighty change in our lives. We will repent of our sins, we will understand our position in Christ as unassailable, and we will have a mighty saving faith in the blood to deliver us from sin and wickedness and the evil and darkness which surrounds us. BCF have repeatedly taught that we have no ‘position’ in Christ at all but this is to create doubt and fear and a toxic dependence upon the elders to save them.
The congregation of this ‘church’ are not filled with the joy of the Lord or of their salvation. They walk in fear, doubt, anxiety, distrust, frustration, despair and often loneliness and depression. We have always believed this was because of the terrible abuses heaped upon them by the elders. In fact we need to consider this very important and central fact. Are these ones who identify as Christians in fact saved? I believe not. In fact, I believe most of the members of the BCF congregation (if not many other churches in this country) are not saved at all simply because they have not been properly discipled, or taught, the scriptural truths which will in fact change them from sad defeated and fearful religious human beings into joy, faith and hope-filled believers.
It is the blood of Jesus Christ which saves, cleanses and defeats the power of sin in our lives. We are NOT dependent upon some false teacher or other to pronounce our acceptability to God, and these men are very adept at this kind of sorcery. Yet so many of the congregation are not saved at all. We, who were saved and came to Christ in a completely different environment, and were taught and discipled by other men in other ways, came into this environment believing that these people were exactly like us. How wrong we were. They had been taught lies and religious myths for decades and had learned to lean on the rotten bones of greedy sinful godless men instead of the true rock of their salvation, Christ himself.
One of the first sermons we heard in this place was by a man called Vic Hall, who now leads these people and their various churches around this country. He told us that we ‘do not have a pipeline to God’. He tried to tell us that our relationship with Jesus was now null and void and that in its place was the relationship with the elders of this congregation who would now be the face and voice of Christ to us and that we should obey them and it would be as though we were obeying Christ. It was not said in this kind of language of course, it was spoken in words which were much less clear and not all at once. Over the course of time, we stopped believing in Jesus, stopped reading our bibles, stopped praying in fact, and believed that our involvement with this church and its leaders was all that was necessary.
The truth of the matter, which I have only lately come to understand fully, was that there was no ‘us’ to be part of. This was not a church of Jesus Christ, this was no group of members of the body of Christ. Within its ranks there were individuals and marriages who were members of the body of Christ due to their conversion at some previous point and who had gotten themselves well and truly lost. Jesus has, and will, come to claim those ones. But nobody who has heard this un-gospel since a child, or has become a ‘christian’ within its ranks ( a precious few I think) or has stayed inside its gates for more than a few years will be able to call themselves truly saved until they leave and come once again to that bounteous place where the blood can cleanse them of their blindness, deception and wicked deeds. Indeed, the insidious hints and insinuations to the congregation that they might not be saved, that they may never enter heaven because they were not truly obeying, or believing in the un-gospel that was being preached was in fact twisted truth. There was no genuine gospel being preached, the blood of Jesus has been trampled underfoot for years, and there is no growth, change, deliverance or fruit of the Spirit.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
Many have left this place claiming ‘there is no love here’. An idea which has created a great deal of angst in the leaders who have gone to great lengths to protest that there is indeed a great deal of love. They point to the ‘works’ which have been done there in the name of Jesus, yet as Paul points out, you can be prophesying, believing, giving all your worldly goods to the poor and giving your body to be burned but if there is no love you have nothing. These elders have simply pointed to all the ‘works’ they have done and failed to realise that love can be completely absent regardless of how busy you are as a Christian doing religious activities.
There was manifestly no love in that place, as many can attest, because of the lack of salvation, the lack of genuine change, of new creation, of the love of Christ. The love of the Father was not in them, therefore there was no love of the brethren.
As John proclaims…
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death.”(1 John 3:14)
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:35)
“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”(1 John 2:10)
A precious antidote to this lack of love, is to understand what the blood of Jesus has done for us. It has enabled us to come to the cross as wicked sinners lacking in even the most basic love for mankind, to be washed and cleaned and to be given new life, robes of righteousness and the power to defeat sin. We now are new creations. We are now able to love, rejoice, hope, believe, trust, walk in the Spirit, know the mind of Christ, and grow and change into mature believers. There was no love at BCF because there was no gospel. There was no change at BCF because there was no gospel. There was no communion of the saints at BCF because there were no saints and there were no saints because there was no gospel.
I can’t stress enough the importance of this truth. The gospel has the power to save. The gospel has the power to save and only the gospel has the power to save. This is why Paul talks about a little leaven leavening the whole lump. (Gal:5:9) It only takes a partial gospel, an incomplete gospel, a slightly changed gospel, or indeed that most frightful of all things doctrines of demons, to deceive us, and we will not be able to partake of the whole of what is available to us.
Not only was BCF preaching a false gospel – come to the elders and be saved – but it was controlling and manipulating its members in cruel and unusual punishment. This was no mere mistaken preaching, this was the whole package of torment, anguish, fear, destruction and theft. People entered in believing they were partaking of the communion of Christ and left broken and battered not even realising they had partaken of demonic perversion and been made unclean and unworthy to be called Christ’s.
Jesus has had to come to us as a family and show us once again what the saving power of His Blood is all about. We have had to ask Him to cleanse us, forgive us, change us so that we no longer live in the oppression and false teaching which was heaped upon us by ungodly men clothing themselves as angels of light.
Their sin made themselves unclean, and because we had partaken of their false gospel we also were unclean.
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we[b] do not lose those things we worked for, but that we[c] may receive a full reward.9 Whoever transgresses[d] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
(2 John 1:9-11)
If it is a sin to bring a false doctrine and equally a sin to share in this false doctrine, then we need to confess that sin before Jesus and repent of it, and be washed by his wonderful blood and be restored to Him. For we not only shared in those evil deeds by staying in that place and giving them our tithe, and essentially our approval, but we supported them in word and deed by participating in the life of the church including communion.
Paul was adamant about ensuring you don’t participate in communion in an unworthy manner.
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:27-32)
In this same chapter just before he discusses communion, Paul also mentions heresies and divisions amongst the brethren.
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
(1 Corinthians 11:18-19)
We participated in a communion of false believers preaching a false gospel and leading others astray. It was a synagogue of satan, or more pertinently, a church of satan (Rev. 3:9). We were not hearing the true gospel any more than we were loving each other and laying down our lives for each other. The blood of Christ was made to no effect, because there was no faith that all we needed to do was partake of His life. We were living sad religious lives led by angry, greedy religious men.
God has awakened our hearts to the gospel, has cleansed us in His life-giving blood and empowered us to live, pray, believe and trust in His provision and His grace for each and every day. THIS is the gospel, THIS is what brings the joy of the Lord, and THIS is what true communion with Christ is all about. We no longer have to strive to become members of the body of Christ, in Him and because of His sacrifice, His resurrection, we are made one.
A true believer will always love the brethren. They do not need to be harangued or attacked by preachers to do so. You know when you have spoken to another member of the body of Christ because there is that universal acknowledgement in the Spirit that here is another like unto ourselves who are united by the blood of Jesus. The love of God is in us because He loved us first and proved His love at the Cross. That love is shed abroad in our hearts and to our brethren and to the unsaved also upon we have great compassion as lost, as we once were ourselves.
No, the blood of Jesus is the ONLY thing which unites us as believers and that unification is present, eternal and functional wherever and whenever we find each other in this present darkness. Only a false gospel presented by messengers of Satan can erode and disrupt that unity. May it never be.
39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. ( Hebrews 10)