Living in chaos from earliest memory, it has been important to have a Plan B in place for all contingencies. Some people have called this Defensive Pessimism, or more recently a Pre-mortem. It involves examining all possibilities, usually negative ones and then working out what you will do if those possibilities become realities. Like a postmortem you need to carefully look at what could happen – rather than what did happen – and work backwards.
The trouble with Plan B’s is that you are not living in reality you are living in possibility and worse, you are living in negative possibilities. So if all you are seeing is the negative, you are not seeing the good stuff. Moreover, you are not interpreting what happens from a godly perspective.
If God made you and put you here, and He did, then what happens to you is His concern, not yours. Your concern is to respond to God, your creator. If your response is gratitude, love and worship, coming from a heart which has been changed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, then you are going to know God’s love to you in a much deeper way. You are going to experience the peace and joy that comes from knowing and SEEING God work in your life.
This is actually the trouble that a lot of unsaved, or unbelievers, experience. They say ‘If God loves me then why did he let this terrible thing happen to me’. They don’t, and I hesitate to use this phrase, ‘feel the love’. They don’t feel it, because they don’t know it. Scripture tells us that God’s love abides in us and we know that because we have ‘love for the brethren’. In other words, if you love God’s people, then the love of God is present in you. If you don’t love God’s people, and that covers most unbelievers, then God’s love is not in you. If God’s love is not in you, then you are not going to either see God the way He is, nor are you going to understand why God allows things to happen to you. Nor are you going to recognise that a lot of what happens to unbelievers is because they are walking in disobedience to and rebellion against God. God does love unbelievers in the same way He always has. But if you are not interested in God’s love and work actively against God and His people, then you had better watch out. No. God is not going to ‘get’ you. But the principle or law of sowing and reaping is always active in the world. God won’t get you, but the results of your own actions will. Also, God’s word tells us that vengeance belongs to Him. If you attack him, and attacking His people is the same thing, then He will take vengeance. (Psalm 34:21)
It is interesting that many Christians will also ask this question or express the concern that they are not ‘feeling’ the love of God. God helped me see the reason for this some time ago. I had been getting more and more agitated that I didn’t feel loved by God. I wanted God to somehow show me that He loved me and was really looking for some kind of overwhelming tsunami of emotion to hit me to prove that I was being supernaturally loved. What God showed me was that this is not love. Human beings think love acts a certain way and they tend most of the time to think that it has something to do with feeling emotionally excited the same way they would if they had just ‘fallen in love’ with somebody. In fact, this ‘falling in love’ thing is not love at all, it is a mixture of a lot of emotions, and a lot of the emotion is lust not love. Genuine love is not an overwhelming feeling, or at least not most of the time, it is a steady, strong sense of an open heart full of affection, adoration (in the right sense), the desire to bless and edify, belonging and loyalty as well as a host of others. It is almost impossible to describe genuine love in anything other than a very long complex description because it is an incredibly rich sense, and I would not call it an emotion, but a way of seeing somebody.
In God’s kingdom, His love is encapsulated in the fact that He gives His people the Spirit of Adoption which cries ‘Abba’, Father. This is the term Jesus himself used when addressing the Father just before His crucifixion.
36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
Mark 14 NKJV
Paul also encouraged both the Galatians and the Romans by exhorting us to cry out to God the same way, to our Father in heaven, not just a name, but an actual, in fact the very first ever, creator and progenitor of children.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8 NKJV
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Galatians 4 NKJV
He has made us His own. That is a very special feeling. It is the epitome of His love, the sense not just of belonging to God’s family but of being cared for. If your father was a good man who loved you affectionately and openly, you can thank God for that. You have a good inheritance to pass on to your children. If not, you can still thank God. Psalm 27:10 tells us that when our mother and father forsake us, the Lord will take us up. David, the writer of the psalm, knew what that meant. His family forsook him, yet God anointed him as king of Israel when he was just a boy, and the youngest boy in the family at that. The others saw him as just a shepherd boy, the least important and least vital member of the family. But God made him king because he had a ‘heart after God’.
God showed me that I did indeed know the love of God. He asked me whether I loved Him. When I examined my heart, I realised I did indeed love Him. That, He said, was His love. We can’t love God unless He has put a love for Him in our hearts first. And that genuinely is love, it has all the attributes of the love we have for the human beings we care deeply for and it also has a supernatural quality, but it’s not something I can describe, you have to experience it for yourself.
Some unbelievers at this point might say well if God is the one who puts the love in your heart then what’s the point? It’s up to God isn’t it? God tells us that He knows His own, and also that His people know His voice. But in order to come to God, you still have a choice. If you truly want to know God and want to know His love in your heart, all you have to do is come to Jesus. Talk to Him! Tell Him what is in the depths of your heart. There is no sinner on the face of the earth that will be turned away by God if they truly come with an open heart and wish to do business with Him. Only God can show you what is in your heart, and only God can cleanse you from what is in there. If you know that your heart is filled with dirt and filth, and if you are honest you will know what kinds of dirt and filth you have been playing with all your life, then the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from that filth so that we can come before God with clean hands and a pure heart. Every true believer wants to have a pure heart. Even David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba came before God with a repentant heart and cried out “Cast me not away from your presence O God, take not your Holy Spirit from me!”. He had known the presence of God and His blessings. But he also knew that, in the time before Christ, he had to come to God and make confession so that he could be made clean and the proper sacrifices made to cleanse him. In the Old Testament, men laid their hands on the animal to be sacrificed to transfer their sin to the animal and the animal was then killed and its blood sprinkled on the altar. God cleanses us today through the final sacrifice of His Son upon the altar of Gethsemane, and if we come to Him and recognise that He bore our sins that day on the cross, we will be cleansed, made whole, made clean and made acceptable to God.
God sent Jesus because He so loved the world that He was willing to die for us.
We don’t need any more proof of God’s love than this, and it is this single most important event in the history of Humankind that will determine whether we will know God’s love within our own heart. We Christians can tell you that God loves you til we are blue in the face, but you won’t know that love in your heart until you are first made clean by God himself and then filled with His love and His Spirit.
If you want to make that choice, all you need to do is understand and accept the final sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God and ask Him to cleanse you from your unworthiness.
We are all unworthy before God. There is none good, not one. We have all sinned and fallen from the perfection God meant every human being to have. There is no need for me to be making Plan B’s. God doesn’t need a Plan B. His Plan A, Jesus Christ, is the only provision I need. It is only my flesh, my old nature, the nature I was born with that pushes me to anxiously analyse and plan. It is not peace and joy, it is torment and agitation. This is not God’s plan for me or for anyone.
Acts 17:22-31 says;Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
It amazes me that in our day and age, we as ‘God’s People’, can read these verses in Acts 17 and yet so easily pass over this verse, the one I have highlighted in blue.
I have been a believer in Jesus Christ for over 30 years, well over half of my life, and I can still remember the first time I heard this portion of scripture. It was on the night I got born again.
The grey headed old man who sat there in a Christian coffee shop in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, one Saturday night back in November of 1984 spoke those words to me.
That is not where it ended though. He went on to speak to me for about an hour about the love of God in Jesus Christ and the provision of a Redeemer for all of mankind. This man knew the gospel and more importantly, he knew Jesus.
That night Ed presented the gospel to me in no uncertain terms. Ed presented what he knew. He presented the truth, or should I say, he presented The Truth.
Then the Holy Spirit stepped it up a level and said this through Ed, ‘This is a command, we are commanded to repent. This is not an invitation, there is a big difference. If it were an invitation by God to us we would be well within our rights to decline that invitation without any consequences.’
But it is not an invitation. God has spoken clearly through the mouth of Paul and has said the same to every man, woman and child on the face of the earth through-out all of history, REPENT.
In doing so, the Holy Spirit left no room for me to side step what God Himself was saying to me through a mere mortal. God used a man to present the gospel to me. I had to make a decision there and then on the spot.
Paul the apostle was inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak these words in Acts 17 to a group of learned philosophers. These guys were no dummies. They knew their stuff. They spent all day every day talking about all sorts of new ideas that were coming up all around them. Paul called them ‘very religious’.
Here was Paul, standing in the midst of a lot of spiritual darkness, in a city that was known for its idolatry, the writer says that ‘his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was given over to idols.’ Acts 17:16.
We read in Deuteronomy 32:15-17
But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
You grew fat, you grew thick,
You are obese!
Then he forsook God who made him,
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
They sacrificed to demons, not to God,
To gods they did not know,
And again Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:18-22,
‘Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?’
These are just a few of the many scriptures I could point out that detail how there is demonic activity behind every idol, whether it is a physical object or an idol in our hearts.
We are told that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities etc. Paul knew exactly what he was talking about. He had had first hand experience in the demonic realm.
So, Paul is standing in Demon HQ on Mars Hill in Athens. Greece. These people were given over to idols. These entities ruled the lives of those who worshipped them. You only need to look at the world we now live in and see for yourself what is going on.
We become like the thing we worship. If we love and worship God we will become like him. If we love and worship men over God we will become like those people whom we set up to be more important than God. If we worship false gods/demons we will become like those demons. This is plain and simple. It is spelt out clearly in the scriptures.
Psalm 135:15-18 emphatically teaches this principle:
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. THOSE WHO MAKE THEM WILL BE LIKE THEM, AND SO WILL ALL WHO TRUST IN THEM.” (Emphasis added)
Paul stood on Mars Hill and preached one thing, Repentance. This was not an invitation, it was a command.
John the Baptist preached repentance, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matt 3:2
Jesus, from day one, preached repentance, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
And what did Peter preach on the day of Pentecost, repentance!
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent…”
Let me make it plain and simple, the gospel with out repentance is not the gospel.
There are many churches out there now who have left out things like repentance, sin, the Blood and hell. There are many supposed world renown speakers and teaches who no longer preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are preaching a watered down version of the message that Christ himself set out for us.
Seeker Sensitive, Emerging or Purpose Driven, Universalist, Dominionists and so on. All of these groups in one way or another have changed the gospel. What they now preach is not what Paul preached.
Look at Galatians chapter 1, God was very clear about this issue as He inspired Paul by the Holy Spirit to pen the following:.
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Emphasis added
This is not an Old Testament warning, it is Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and speaking to the early church.
How is it that we think we can get away with it now? Has God’s Word to us changed? No, it has not. This warning still stands today as a reminder that we do not add to or take away from God’s Word.
Who are we to change the message? Who are we to think that we can come up with a better gospel than that which was delivered to us by Jesus, John Baptist, Peter and Paul?
Who do we think we are to say to God that the message that was given to us by God is just not good enough?
Who do we think we are? Are we better or smarter than God himself?
All who call upon the name, that Holy Name of Jesus Christ need to search their hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light into our lives and deal with us if we have gone down this path
.On that day there will be many who will stand in the presence of the Holy God who cannot look upon sin and they will say, ‘Didn’t we do this in your name and that in your name? Didn’t we preach the gospel and tell people to follow Jesus and all their problems would be solved?’
By then it is too late.
And what of the many who supposedly come into the kingdom on such a message?
They may have seen the kingdom but I doubt they have entered. Yes, I know, only God knows who will make it in and you are right to say this but scripture is very very clear, entry into the kingdom is by one way only, Repentance.
God commands all men everywhere to repent.
Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Prodigal Son – The Sacrifice for the Repentant Man
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”
The parable of the prodigal son is one that is very well-known, and consequently is used very often by those standing at the pulpit today to warn against the perils of greed and selfishness. It speaks very clearly about what happens to those that turn away from a loving and generous Father, and seek to buy up for themselves all that this fallen world has to offer; essentially, that they will eventually find themselves bereft of all the things that they once sought after (friends, prestige, money, power, etc.), end up on the bottom of the heap, and have absolutely no-one else to blame but themselves and their own self-interest.
However, this is not the true meaning of this passage; at least, it isn’t the entire story. True, we will face the consequences of our actions should we be foolish enough to want to pursue the lusts of the flesh over residing under the care, protection, provision and blessing of our Heavenly Father, who knows our needs before we even know ourselves. And yes, we also eventually come to the conclusion that we are far better off with our Father than without, and we are all welcomed back into out Father’s embrace with joy and celebration by the heavenlies when we repent and ask for forgiveness for our stupidity. But this isn’t all Jesus’ parable has to offer in terms of teaching.
If you look closely at Scripture, you will find constant references to the penalty for sin: death. You will also find that, because the people in Scripture were unable to pay this penalty themselves, they had to have another way of atoning for the sin that God is unable to bear in His holy Presence. God provided them with a solution; the sacrifices of old, the burnt offerings presented to God for the remission of the sins of the people. This was so all throughout the Old Testament, right up until Jesus came into the world. In fact, these sacrifices persisted until the Final Sacrifice was made to atone for all sin; past present, and until the Last Day. Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross paid the price of blood that was simply too much for us puny humans to be able to pay and still remain pure before a Holy God.
The shedding of blood is a very solemn thing throughout the Bible. It demonstrates the debt that all men must pay to answer for sin, and yet were unable to. It is also cause for celebration, just as it was in the parable. It shows that God has forgotten our sins; that we have been washed anew by the shedding of blood and have been welcomed back into the centre of God’s holy Presence – pure, cleansed, and redeemed.
This is what is revealed in the parable of the Prodigal. The image of the overjoyed father running to meet his son (which no rich, self-respecting landowner would have been caught dead doing in those times), heedless of the filthy, stinking vagabond his child had become because of his sin, is one of our Beloved Father welcoming us back into His house after having asked for forgiveness. The robe, ring and sandals all signify the return of the son to his place as a son, and demonstrate the all-encompassing compassion and forgiveness of our Father in Heaven accepting us as His children after we repent and turn away from our wrongdoing.
Make no mistake; the son had to realise that he was the cause of his own misery, and that he had sinned in walking away from his father, and be willing to ask for forgiveness without any expectation of receiving anything in return, to have any chance of being welcomed back into his father’s house. We cannot simply roll around in the muck of the world and then just expect to be able to waltz right back into God’s house without any consequences.
The symbol of the killing of the fatted calf is the most important. It signifies the shedding of blood for the sins of the son, and in so doing cleansing him of his error and allowing him to be able to stand in his father’s presence without shame or guilt of his previous mistakes. And so it is for us and the shedding of Jesus’ blood, the Blood of the Spotless Lamb of God, as payment for our sins. There was great celebration in the father’s house when his son returned to him, once dead, now alive; once lost, now found. Again, this is the same for us also. Because the blood of the Lamb was spilt on our behalf, we can now turn away from our sins and repent, be cleansed by Jesus’ blood, and return to the Presence of the LORD our God with great joy and happiness.
We have had our fleshly selves put to death with all sin, and have been brought alive, new creations, into the embrace of the Lord. We were once lost, swallowed up by the darkness of this fallen world, and are now found by the Light of the World, who was offered up on our behalf so that we might live.
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)