The current judicial exercise in ensuring a hard separation between religion and the federal or state governments has a fairly short history. It really dates to the last century when Justice Hugo Black resurrected a comment that Thomas Jefferson had made in reply to a letter from the Danbury Baptist Association. The Connecticut group had written to congratulate him upon his election to the Presidency in 1804. His use of the phrase â€œa wall of separationâ€ is its first occurrence in text in this land, and in its context it was used as part of his explanation as to why he had chosen not to call for a national day of fasting and thanksgiving as his two predecessors had done upon election. Justice Blackâ€™s appropriation of the remark was much more insidious.
The following things can be said of any denomination, no matter its name, when founded, or the motives of those who established it. It is the actual historical record that counts.
I am one of those folks who believe that I do not get the option of choosing what to do in order to be pleasing to God. I believe the scriptures clearly state that the option is to serve God and Christ in the manner in which they have prescribed. That nothing else will work. And in order to show our thankfulness for life itself we are asked to follow the instructions exactly as they were given. So I try to take that seriously and study and do what I can to get it right. I hope you do too.
There was not a Baptist Church on the face of this planet prior to the late seventeenth century. I have stated this previously. The word Baptist in its many forms did not appear in any language before the fifteenth century; and it never occurs in the plural in any Bible. Baptists follow the teaching of Jean Calvin and his notion that you cannot fall from grace even if you leave the truth and become reprobate. I personally wonder what Judas would have to say about that? They also teach a multitude of other things of their own interpretation.
There was not a Jehovah’s Witness on earth before the late eighteenth century; and you will not find that church (they call their meeting places Kingdom Halls) or anything like it talked about anywhere in the NT. The adherents to this teaching like to point to the second chapter of Acts and similar scriptures where Peter stated “of which we are witnesses…” as if the statement was made as a stamp for all Christians in every time. But the apostles were applying those statements to themselves as the context demands. They were the witnesses of Christ and God – not us. We haven’t witnessed a thing.
If you use any reliable version of the scriptures, you cannot find where Jesus is said to be Michael the archangel – as these folks teach. There is a lot of difference between what Jesus and The Lord God Almighty said and what the Witnesses say. And because they could not find Jesus as Michael in the scriptures they ginned up their very own “translation” (the New World Translation) altering a few words here and there mainly in Hebrews chapters one and two, and a few other places. Voila! There you have it: Michael is Jesus and vice versa. There is not a scholar or serious student of scriptures who can find such things in a Bible. What a dangerous prospect.
Like many other denominations, they have repeatedly set the year for the final judgment, yet seem to be out of calibration slightly as they have managed to miss it every single time. And with the rest of the newer denominations, they are waiting for Jesus to come and set up shop in Old Jerusalem in an earthly kingdom following what they style the Armageddon of Revelation. Nearly every denomination teaches some form of this. But if you were to start looking now you would not find a word of support for any of that anywhere in the scriptures either. I challenge them regularly to point out where it says that Jesus will ever set foot upon the earth again. Some have called me a false teacher or worse, but it is nowhere taught like they teach it. Yet that is what they hold to. They are mostly quiet about these major discrepancies when seeking out new converts.
You cannot find a Pentecostal church or assembly of any kind anywhere in God’s Word either – nor will you ever verify one of their miracles including their much practiced speaking in tongues. It is all feel good emotional overload or just plain deception no matter how good and kind those folks may seem. They also claim to prophesy. Moses wrote that if what the prophet declared did not come to pass, that prophet was not from God (Deuteronomy 18: 22). Now that is a sure and simple formula.
The same can be said of the Seventh Day Adventist churches. A serious study of the eighteenth through twentieth chapters of the Gospel of John, and a simple look at the record in Acts chapter twenty will refute both the reason for their name and the thesis behind it.
There was not a Mormon or a Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints on the face of the earth until the eighteen twenties. When you get right down to it – only two angels are named in the Bible; and Moroni was not one of them. As far as things go, the Mormons teach that Adam is the Lord God Almighty, and that you will be a God too if you believe what they teach and join up with them. They also tend to disregard their founder’s first book lately, seeming to be ashamed of the Book of Mormon. And they ought to be ashamed, as it is mostly a fable attached to the book of Isaiah with many (and I do mean lots) of additions. Aside from the Koran and the mindless noise from the other eastern religions, it is the most unreadable religious tome on the face of the earth. So they more often choose to lean on and teach Joseph Smith’s The Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants. What does Ecclesiastes 3:14 say about God and his Word? By the way, Joseph Smith, widely despised as a womanizer, was shot and killed by one of the cuckolded husbands whose wife he had recently tempted to come into his steadily enlarging harem (my word choice not theirs), as he was being released from jail. He had a weakness for the ladies as many Mormon men have had in days past, present, and will have in the future. The women of Mormonism are as easily made into fools as are those of Islam (2 Timothy 3: 6).
The Apostle Paul said that if an angel, apostle, or anybody else came and taught something different from what he and the rest of the apostles of Christ taught, to “let them be accursed.” (Galatians 1: 8, 9). In case they did not hear it the first time, he said it twice. Do you suppose that he did not mean what he said, or perhaps that he did not say what he actually meant? If either is true we are surely wasting our time.
You will never find a Christian Church mentioned in the scriptures; only people are called Christian in the scriptures. And without splitting hairs, if Christians meet in assembly could we rightly call it a Christian assembly? My answer is yes. But like most denominations they have a national organization which you also cannot find in a Bible. That was added by men. They use instrumental music and build fellowship halls which you can not find Jesus or his disciples participating in or using. But to our continued shame, I can say the exact same things about some churches of Christ too. So what is one to do? If we cannot so much as find our name in the scriptures, or what we practice, how is it that we can call ourselves “of Christ” or be “Christ like”? “God is not the author of confusion.” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
I’ll stop with the Church of Scientology and the Church of Christ Scientists. Both have nothing to do with either Christianity or science, though for widely different reasons. Scientology is a complete fiction that has nothing at all to do with either God or Christ, and states that we are from the far away and long ago destroyed planet: Theitan (sic?). So like a blind moth we are only trying to get back over to the light. Their founder was a science fiction writer and serious tax dodger (the late L. Ron Hubbard). The Church of Christ Scientists follows the teaching of the late Mary Baker Eddy, who it was said was miraculously healed from a serious disease while reading a passage in Matthew. The rest of their doctrine is based upon her writings and some others of like mind.
You, gentle student, just like me and everybody else, can believe whatever we like; but as for me – I will strive to serve the Lord. And so I will end this poor exercise the same way I started it, before I aggravate someone who has followed passion or emotions over the Word of God. My intent is not to spin up the reader; but if I irked someone enough to go to the source of everything we know about God, Christ, angels, demons, and life and death — then I have been modestly successful. If not, we at CMS will continue on. And if you believe these things are fraudulent you would do me a great favor by providing me some proof as to how it is they are as you may see them: use a Bible please.
Finally, although there may have been a period of time when no true patterned assemblies existed – that does not mean that they did not spring back to life and do not exist right now. If we, like some of our ancestors (men like Barton Stone in Kentucky, and James Elias in New England) started to take the Word of God seriously, and began again to pattern what they taught and did strictly from the Word of God – what would the end product of that exercise be called?
Without being trite if you follow a tried and true pattern for anything (building a house, repairing a car, tailoring a suit of clothes, or making a meal) what do you get if you follow it through? If the Bible gives us the pattern for becoming a Christian and meeting in assembly as God had said to do and as it pleases God – then what is the outcome of doing those things to the exclusion of all others?
Friends we can all use the exact same yardstick to measure every church or group on this planet; and when done only the one with the correct pattern, name, organization, and teaching will be on the side with the “sheep.”
The rest are “goats” no matter how friendly and seemingly good and godly they may seem at first glance. Jesus said he will return to separate the one from the other, and his disciples will “meet him in the air.”
Where do you want to be “when the Lord comes to receive his own?”
The angel who showed the apostle John the revelation said “Worship God.” That’s good enough for me.
God said to the children of Israel:
“Behold, I send an angel in front of you, to keep you in the right way, and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Fear him, and obey his voice, and do not provoke him; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if you will obey his voice, and do all that I say; then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries.
(Exodus 23: 20-22).
We don’t get an angel today. We have the complete record:
“Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.”
(Jude 1: 3).
The instructions are plain and it is simple so that anyone who wants to can find the truth and the patterns they need to be following.
“The common people heard him gladly.”
(Mark 12: 37)
(Thank’s for reading. I will be heading back to the banks of the Red Sea for my next few posts.)