All In

In the parable of the talents (large sums of money – representing the life of Christ implanted within all believers – given to servants who were then responsible to go out and bring in a return on the master’s money), the master (who represents God and Christ) said to the third servant (who did nothing with his master’s money), “Therefore you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.” (Mt. 25:27)  Since this servant did not even do this least of things for his master, this lazy, negligent servant is “cast into the outer darkness.” (Mt. 25:30)

And in the parable of the workers who were each paid a day’s wages, all the workers, whether they had worked all day or only an hour, received the same amount of pay. (Mt. 20:9-10)  And Jesus promised that anyone who would give even a cup of water to the least (poorest, smallest), would not lose his reward. (Mk. 9:41)

One inference we could make from these statements is that there is some bottom line, lowest level of activity that brings in a minimal increase that would still allow one to remain in Christ and God’s kingdom when our personal account with God is finally settled.  But we must also immediately recognize that this minimum level that God will deem acceptable is known only to God – and it is likely to be different for each person because each one will be judged by what he has done with what he had been given.  But no “bottom line” of acceptability is ever once mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament, neither spelled out nor given in specifics nor advocated.  In fact, we find that God has always had a different standard in mind.

Jesus said that the most important commandment was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22:37)  And to the woman at the well He said, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (Jn. 4:23)  As a condition for attaining eternal life, Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Sell all that you have, and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow Me.” (Lk. 18:22)

The minimalists (as well as those who don’t even rise to that standard) will immediately point out that the first requirement is in the law and we are no longer under law, that the second requirement doesn’t say anything about “all” and that the third requirement was placed upon only one particular man with one particular hindrance in his quest for eternal life.  All of these observations are true but these are given as an excuse to avoid the responsibility to the main point – not as a means to find truth.

The writer of Hebrews warns us, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it.  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:1-3)

Christ commanded His disciples, “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (Jn. 13:34)  If anyone ever gave His all to the will of God, Jesus stands head and shoulders above all others! (also see Heb. 10:7)  By this same standard, we are to care for the others who also belong to Him.  But because men have begun to care more about what is right in their own eyes (translated as “lawlessness” in the better versions), the love of most has grown cold. (Mt. 24:12, also see Jdgs. 21:25)  Because this lawlessness is rarely recognized for what it is, it is rarely considered as a sinful or carnal way to choose one’s “church” or one’s preferred “theology” and so it remains the most popular foundation stone of churchianity.  Because the many have heaped up and followed the false teachers in their dangerous divisions (“denominations”), all these “church”-ites can attain to is a mere form of godliness that cannot enable anyone to love others as Christ loved His followers. (see 2 Tim. 4:3-4, 2 Pet. 2:1-2, 2 Tim. 3:5)

Jesus also said, “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (Jn. 7:17)  Here Jesus invites everyone to question and challenge the source of His words and teachings.  If anyone’s words and teachings ought to be above question, it should be the Christ’s.  But since even His words are not above challenge (though indeed they will stand up to any and all challenges), let us be free, once and for all time, from the monstrous, demonic lie that teachings from the clergy are above question. (also see 1 Ths. 5:21-22 where Paul says to test all things!)  Let us also clearly recognize that one who will not stand to have his teachings or practices questioned or examined – especially by the light of the Scriptures – is clergy.  It is the “all in” attitude for the will of God that protects us from the deception that is the characteristic of the end times (Mt. 24:4) – that is, unless someone wants to do God’s will above their own will, they will be ripe for failing to discern just where any particular teaching comes from.  This is serious business indeed since the end times will be characterized as “perilous” (2 Tim. 3:1) and will be fueled by “doctrines (teachings) of demons” that will cause many to depart from the faith. (1 Tim. 4:1)  The stakes are high where deception and truth are concerned.  Those who teach otherwise are perhaps the most dangerous of the deceivers because they are as deceived as those whom they deceive!

There simply is no safer place in God than to be “all in” – anything else leaves far too much of ourselves exposed as a target or as a captured “beachhead” in our enemy’s assault upon our eternal soul.  Only fools parade themselves openly in battlefields and dance brazenly in minefields.  Those who take the battle seriously and fight like they want to both win (attain to God’s will) and survive (remain in Christ’s kingdom when this life is done) are those who are “all in.”  All else are deceived – already wounded, maimed or even dead on the battlefield and are “out.”

Let he who has ears hear.

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Why Do We Meet

In one of the few places where the KJV actually uses the word “assembly” (instead of “church”) to translate the Greek word ekklesia [1577], Luke records, “Some [of those who had rushed into the theater] therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly (ekklesia) was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.” (Acts 19:32)  Demetrius the silversmith had stirred up the people and gathered the assembly to discuss what to do with Paul and the Christians (Acts 19:24-29) and the assembly was so confused that most of them did not even know why they had gathered.  This is a perfect picture of the modern “church.”  Few, if any, seem to remember or even know what the mission of the genuine ekklesia is.

Put simply, the ekklesia is to be spiritually able and equipped to attend to the issues and affairs of Christ’s kingdom of light.  Thus, when we come together, the key item on the agenda is not to have a time of worship or to hold a Bible study or to hear a “sermon” that titillates our ears (2 Tim. 4:3-4) but rather to, in some real way, further the kingdom of God in our midst.  In practical terms, the ekklesia then should be focusing on:

 

  • Hearing and doing the wishes and commands of the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:22, etc.)  The kingdom of God comes into our midst when we obey Christ and God through the leading of His Spirit. (Mt. 6:10, Rom. 8:14, etc.)  Until the Lord is truly the Lord over any assembly, there is no possibility of furthering the kingdom of God.  As valuable as corporate worship, Bible studies and spiritual messages may be, if they replace the headship of Christ over the assembly, they are out of order.  He alone is to be the Administrator (Greek leitourgos [3011] director, “liturgy”) of the work performed in the sanctuary that is His people. (Heb. 8:2)

 

  • Producing viable citizens for Christ’s kingdom. Discipleship is virtually a lost art in today’s apostate environment but it is a requirement for any kingdom that its citizens be taught to practice good citizenship according to its laws and ways.  In Christ’s kingdom, the primary characteristics are called “the fruit of the Spirit” and they violate the law of no man’s land. (Gal. 5:22-23)  These are produced, not by adherence to any list of do-s and don’t-s, but by learning to individually hear and obey the Lord.  “My sheep hear My voice,” the Lord said, “and I know them, and they follow Me.” (Jn. 10:27)  Those who do not hear His voice and do not follow and obey Him have no right to claim Him as either Lord or Savior!

 

  • Meeting the needs of the people of Christ’s kingdom and even of this world. As any assembly practices the headship of Christ Jesus over their activities and as citizens of His kingdom are better equipped and prepared to shine light in their dark worlds, the needs of the people of the assembly and those they interact with will need to be addressed.

 

Peter wrote, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.  If anyone serves, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 4:10-11)  There are two kinds of gifting in view here – speaking and serving – and they are both vitally necessary for a healthy expression of the way of following Christ and God.  Yet, the “church” meeting format caters almost exclusively to the speakers and virtually excludes the operation of those who are gifted primarily to serve.  Service (actual work, productivity) in the kingdom of God is almost impossible to do at a meeting and it is in this light that meetings can rob the people and divert them from their mission to hear and obey God, disciple others and meet real needs.

These three things are the lost mission of the ekklesia.  Too many think or act as if the whole purpose of assembling is to sing songs or to talk about the Bible or even just to have meetings so that we may know who each other are.  Even the world’s business community knows that having too many meetings is counter-productive to actually getting any work done and that when meetings over-shadow productivity, the business is headed toward a disastrous end.  The “church” is in its present straits because it has forsaken the true Head and has settled into a tradition of holding dead meetings that produce nothing of the spiritual life of Christ and which meet no real needs of the people who attend the meetings.  What little of Christ is experienced in most “church” meetings is not a function of the “church’s” methodology but a testimony of the transcendence of God who will meet anyone who sincerely and diligently seeks Him in whatever environment he or she is in.

When we learn again to “minister to the Lord” (Acts 13:2, etc.) in the sanctuary of His people (and not in the abominable “sanctuary” of the “church” building that is patterned after the judgment halls, “basilicas,” of the Roman empire), then we will see the kingdom of God flourishing in our midst.  Until such time, we will continue to witness and experience the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith that must be called churchianity. (2 Ths. 2:3, Mt. 24:10)  Those who would “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43) must be true sons of the kingdom intent upon furthering their Father’s kingdom and cannot be mere “church”-ites confused as to why they have gathered together, thinking they have assembled to satisfy some purpose or agenda of their own.  To further the kingdom of God in our midst is the real mission of the genuine ekklesia – all else is simply some man’s or some demon’s deceptive “church.”  The time to choose which entity – the kingdom of God or this world – to which we will belong, is now.

Let he who has ears hear.