Tuesday, December 8, 2020

My Testimony from the early 1980s

I recently found this handwritten testimony in a folder, and it reminded me of the wonderful feelings that were created in my heart by the word of God that came to me on August 24, 1981.  I think it was one of my early attempts at an introduction to the Suffering and the Saints book, when I was thinking about writing it.  I hope you can feel some of what I was feeling in those days right after the Lord spoke to me.

A common cause of suffering among the people of the Lord is our own error.  In this sense, we determine the amount of suffering we must face, just as a child determines the severity of his own punishment by the degree of his own disobedience.  We tell our Father, by our lives, how much discipline we need.  And you may be assured that it is the Father of the family, the Head of the household of faith, who administers the chastisement, and no other.

Exactly one day after the Spirit of God opened the eyes of my spirit to these things, I delivered this message to the believers who met in my home for our regular Monday evening meeting.  And in the following days, it seemed that the more I taught it, the broader its implications spread.  The more I read the Bible, the more of this truth I found.  In the midst of discussions, new insights would burst into my consciousness.  I was, in a sense, ecstatic.  It was as if the Devil had been taken off my back and cast into a foreign land.  I lost sight of Lucifer and saw only the hand of God working everything for my good – because I loved Him.  And now, I surely do love Him more than I ever dreamed I could.  I love Him more because I see more of Him – in everything for me, in every place, in every person, doing only what He sees I need done.  Praise God!  What a wonderful love is welling up in my heart right now toward my Father!  What a thanksgiving it brings into one’s life to see Him as He really is – so wise, so strong, so good.  Certainly, the more we know of God, the more we love Him.

In the days following this revelation, when its depth and breadth and height were constantly unfolding to me, I would find myself laughing – a deep laugh of the soul – a laugh of relief and joy and praise beyond praise.  I remember looking up at the stars and seeing what seemed to be a new heaven – and laughing with sincere praise to Him who alone sits on the circle of the earth.  I felt such a love that it seemed I had never loved before, a joy so complete that it seemed I had been its stranger, a peace so deep that nothing, I knew, would move it, and a faith now so sure that nothing, I knew, could quench it.  This was life!  Real, spiritual life!  If the truth makes one free, then surely this was the truth.  I wanted everyone to know it.

It was an experience beyond committing my life to Christ, beyond the baptism of the Spirit.  Now I know why Jesus told those who were already his disciples that if they continued with him, they would come to know the truth, and then they would be made truly free.  I was already freer than I had been when I was in sin, but this new freedom seemed so much richer, so much surer, so new, so fresh, so pure that it almost seemed that I had never been free before.  I hope that freedom is given to you as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Cross in the New Testament

 Pastor John,

I have been restudying about the sacrifice of Christ.  I’ve had a desire to put up an “ad” on the web site for the sacrifice of Christ teaching that captures the significance of the truth as well as the typical error of Christianity in this area.  As a part of that, I have read what some Christian writers say about the cross.  One thing that became very clear is that despite Christ’s ascent into heaven to accomplish his sacrifice (Heb. 9:24–27), they consistently talk about him accomplishing everything on the cross.  Christians so often talk about the cross and preaching the cross!  The cross seems to be analogous to the gospel for many of them.

I wanted to see for myself everything that was said in the New Testament about the cross.  My summary of that study and my comments are below.  Overall, it seems that Paul spoke of the cross primarily as the means for removing the requirement to observe Moses’ law, the thing that divided Jews from Gentiles.  This is not the significance that Christians attach to the cross.  They speak erroneously of Jesus’ “finished work on the cross”, as if his death on the cross was all that needed to be done and one is “saved” if he just has faith in that.  That seems to be the error that characterizes Christian thought in this matter. 

As you will see, the verses from 1Corinthians 1 (below) caused me the most difficulty.  Paul’s use of “cross” in those verses seems to approximate what Christians say about the cross.  I would like your comments on 1Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  Why did Paul say this when we know that elsewhere he discussed the need for the resurrection and the spirit of God? 


Introduction: The Cross

The word cross occurs twenty-eight times in the New Testament scriptures.  Thirteen times, “cross” seems clearly to be referring just to Christ’s actual cross or his crucifixion on it.  Six times (twice each in Matthew, Mark and Luke), it refers to the cross which those who would follow Jesus must take up.  These nineteen occurrences do not contribute anything to the discussion and are grouped separately at the end of this study, just for completeness.

The remaining nine occurrences are below.  In these verses, Paul is attaching significance to the cross which is beyond a simple description of the physical cross on which Jesus died.

1. Galatians

Galatians 5

11. As for me, brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still persecuted?  In that case, the offense of the cross is removed.

Galatians 6

12. As many as desire to put on a good show in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised, but only so they might not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

13. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they might boast in your flesh.

14. But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but being a new creature does.

Summary of Galatians:

Paul connects the cross with the Gentiles not being required to be circumcised and thus become subject to the law (cf. Gal. 5:3).  Paul says there is an “offense of the cross” which would end if he added circumcision to his preaching, for that persecution (from Jews against Paul and his gospel) was coming against him because he did not preach circumcision to the Gentiles.  The cross, in Paul’s thinking, did away with the need for the law, with its ceremonies and symbolism.  He gloried only in being a new creature in Christ, where circumcision was irrelevant because it achieved nothing for our souls.

Pastor John’s note: This is good Damien.  The “offense of the cross” that Paul mentions here is also the public disgrace which was attached to being crucified.  One of the stumbling-blocks to faith in Jesus in the public mind was simply that Jesus was crucified, a humiliating death imposed upon the least respectable characters.  To be closely associated with someone who was crucified was an embarrassment enough, but to claim that God loved a crucified person – and that a crucified man was the Savior of the world! – would have seemed completely absurd to people of the time.  Only God could touch a heart to believe it.

I believe that this is part of what Paul had in mind in 1Corinthians 2:2, and so I will respond to your inquiry concerning that verse here.  When Paul said, “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” he had in mind two things: (1) to teach the Corinthians to trust in the power of the Spirit alone, and not in either the ceremonial works of the law or Gentile philosophy, and (2) to combat the pride which strict adherence to ceremonies and dependence on philosophy can cause by reminding them that the way of Jesus is a way that people of this world consider a disgrace and will never respect anyone for taking.

2. Ephesians and Colossians

Ephesians 2

4.    For he is our peace, who made of the two one and destroyed the dividing partition,

15. the enmity in his flesh, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, nullifying it so that he might make of those two one new man in himself, thus making peace,

16. and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, having put to death the enmity within himself,

17. and after he was gone, he preached the gospel of peace to you who were far off as well as to those who were near,

18. for through him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Colossians 1

20.  And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

The verse above speaks of peace being made by the blood of his cross and of reconciliation to God.  Ephesians 2:14 also speaks of Christ making peace by making Jew and Gentile one, and of reconciliation to God.  Paul’s reference to the cross here is thus similar to Ephesians 2, though broader in application.

Colossians 2:14 also says exactly the kind of thing that was being said in Ephesians 2:

Colossians 2

10. and you are complete in him who is the head of every ruler and authority,

11. in whom you also are circumcised with a circumcision performed without hands, in the removal of the nature of the flesh given to sins, by the circumcision of Christ,

12. buried with him in baptism, in which you also are raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13. And you, being dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive with him, forgiving us of all transgressions,

14. after he had done away with the writing of ordinances by hand, which was contrary to us, removing it from between us when he nailed it to the cross,

15. by which, stripping the rulers and authorities, he exposed them publicly, leading them along in a Triumph.

16. Therefore, do not allow anyone to condemn you in matters of eating or drinking, or in regard to a feast, or a new moon, or a Sabbath,

17. which are a shadow of things to come, but the reality is of Christ.

Summary of Ephesians and Colossians:

In both letters, Paul teaches that by the cross, Jews and Gentiles have been brought together in the peace of Christ by his abolishing the commandments of ordinances, the ceremonial requirements of the law which divided them, through the death of his fleshly body on the cross.

3. Philippians

Philippians 3

18. For many (of whom I have told you often, and say again now with tears) live as enemies of the cross of Christ,

19. whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.

Summary of Philippians:

This verse concludes a section where Paul starts (3:2) by warning the Philippians of those who would have them circumcised – “mutilated”, he calls it!  He defines true circumcision in verse 3, then discusses his Jewish pedigree, but concludes by saying that all those things are dung (v. 8)!  In verses 9–14, he stresses his desire for the things that come from being in Christ rather than from a righteousness derived from keeping the law.  In verses 15–17, Paul reminds the Philippians to stay in the faith they have already attained to, to follow Paul’s example and the example of those who are likewise not relying on the law.  In verse 18, he says that many are walking in a way that makes them enemies of the cross.

The context of this passage requires that unnamed men are teaching Gentiles to submit to the ordinances and ceremonies of the law, which begins with circumcision.  This use of “cross” thus agrees with Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians above.

5. 1Corinthians

1Corinthians 1

17. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, not with cleverness of speech, lest the cross of Christ be made of no effect.

18. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Here, Paul seems to be using “cross” in a way different from the previous examples, namely, as a synonym for the gospel that he preached.

Verse 17 gives rise to a question.  Is it the using of “cleverness of speech” which makes the cross of Christ of none effect or is it the baptizing of people in water which has that effect?  The latter possibility seems difficult in the Greek, but it would make sense, given how Paul used “cross” in the previous examples.  One problem with it is, who are those who are “being destroyed”?  If Paul is making a distinction between those who trust in Christ but require the law (“Judaizers”) and those who trust solely in Christ, then the ones being destroyed would be those who trust in both Christ and the law.  But there is no reference in nearby verses which states that.  The verses at the beginning of 1Corinthians 2 seem to point to it being the “cleverness of speech” that is the problem:

1. Now, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with lofty speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

2. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Summary of 1Corinthians:

In verse 18, Paul’s point seems to be that (1) Christ did not suit the way Jews expected things to work out and that (2) Christ did not satisfy the intellectual pride of the Greek mind.  Both had to humble down to God’s way of doing things.

Verse 18 seems closest to the way Christianity talks about the cross, but that verse could harmonize with the other uses if we understand, with Paul, that the cross removed the need to be a Jew and keep the law, and made it possible for anyone who has faith in Christ to be IN Christ and, ultimately, be saved.  This would mean that those who clung to the law and its works were going to be destroyed.

Pastor John’s Note: The Corinthians’ proximity to Athens, in addition to the typical Greek mindset, would assure that they had to deal with the influence of philosophy.  That influence would have been twofold: (1) the pride that philosophy can cause and (2) the temptation to depend on human reasoning instead of the power of God.  When Paul tells the Corinthians in 1:1, above, that he “did not come with lofty speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God,” he added later how he did come to them, and why: “My message and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (2:4–5).

6. References to our personal cross

Mt. 10:38:  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Mt. 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mk. 8:34: And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mk. 10:21: Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Lk. 9:23: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross  daily, and follow me.

Lk. 14:27: And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Pastor John’s Note: These are obviously references to the will of God for us as individuals.  The will of God for Jesus was, uniquely, to suffer on a physical cross for the sins of the world.  Each believer’s “cross” is likewise unique, for everyone in the body of Christ has his own function in accordance with his particular circumstance.

7. References to the cross as a physical object

Mt. 27:32: And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

Mt. 27:40: And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.  If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Mt. 27:42: He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Mk. 15:21: And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

Mk. 15:30: Save thyself, and come down from the cross.

Mk. 15:32: Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Lk. 23:26: And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

Jn. 19:17: And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

Jn. 19:19: And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross.  And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Jn. 19:25: Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

Jn. 19:31: The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Phip. 2:8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Heb. 12:2: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Pastor John’s Note: Thank you Damien.  This was a worthwhile study of an important element of the gospel of Christ.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

The Kingdom of God

“For the kingdom of God is not food and drink,

but righteousness and peace and joy in the holy Spirit.”

Romans 14:17

The holy Spirit was not available to humans before the Son of God paid the price for it.  The apostle John said it this way: “The holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn. 7:39b).

If the kingdom of God is in the Spirit, and if the Spirit was not given until after the sacrifice of Christ, then the kingdom of God was not in the Old Testament.  None of the ancient righteous men – Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets – received the holy Spirit, and so, none of them were in the kingdom of God.  How blessed are we to be living in the time when we can enter into God’s kingdom with Jesus!

Jesus said that no one who had ever been born, no matter how holy and wise he may have been, was greater than John the Baptist, and yet, the very least in the kingdom of God is greater than even John.  That is how blessed you are if you have received the Spirit of God!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Man, Is God Mixed-up!

“There is a generation that are clean in their own eyes,

but they have not been washed from their filthiness.

There is a generation – oh, how arrogant are their eyes,

and lofty, their eyelids!”

Proverbs 30:12–13

  • Our sophisticated generation told a friend of ours when she was hired at a local daycare that she was never to tell the toddlers “no”.  Telling children no might damage their self-esteem, you see.

In the Ten Commandments alone, God said “thou shalt not” eleven times.  In the entire Bible (KJV), “thou shalt not” appears 252 times.  This helps us understand how God’s people came to be in such bad spiritual condition.  God ruined them by telling them no so many times!  If only God had been born in our generation, He could have learned better than to do that to us.  Man, is God mixed-up!

  • Our sophisticated generation takes children away from parents, and sometimes sends parents to counseling, if the parents spank their children.

God not only spanks His children but “scourges” them (Heb. 12:6).  He has also been known to make them hungry (Dt. 8:2), withdraw from them and refuse to speak (Hos. 5:15; Amos 8:11), turn them over to their enemies (Jer. 20:4–5), make them sick (Mic. 6:13), and then claim that He does it all for their good!  And He also says that if His children humble themselves to His chastening hand, they will be blessed and happy!  Maybe someone from our sophisticated generation will rescue God’s children by letting them know how wrong it is for Him to do those things to them and that they are victims of abuse.  Man, is God mixed-up!

  • Our sophisticated generation is very inclusive (except for those who love and obey God’s Son; them, they reject.)

God’s kingdom is very exclusive (except for those who love and obey His Son; them, He takes in.)  Man, is God mixed-up!

  • Our sophisticated generation thinks that it is good and wise.

God thinks that He is the only one good and wise (Mt. 19:17; 1Tim. 1:17), or holy, too, for that matter (Rev. 15:4).  Man, is God mixed-up!

  • Our sophisticated generation thinks that slavery is evil, and it condemns every slaveholder in history.

God is the biggest slaveholder of all time (cf. Rom. 6:22).  Actually, I’m one of His slaves, and to tell the truth, it’s not too bad.  Really.  But still, it’s obvious that God is mixed-up.

  • Our sophisticated generation says that it is evil to judge people.

God goes around judging everybody all the time, and He has appointed a day in which He will judge the whole world by His Son Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31), and on that day, every one of us will be repaid for every deed we have done (Eccl. 12:14) and every idle word we have spoken (Mt. 12:36).  He is even called “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen. 18:25; Heb. 12:23).  Man, is God mixed-up!

I wonder if someone from this sophisticated generation would be kind enough to talk to God and help Him out?  Man, is God mixed-up!  I would try to do it, but man, I am mixed up with Him!  I believe everything He says!  Can you help us?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Stay in Your Body

    Jesus said that angels in heaven do not marry (Mt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25), which implies that their bodies were not created male and female, like human bodies.  God may command an angel to appear to a human in the form of a man or a woman, but that does not mean that angels’ bodies have gender.  Angels can do things that humans cannot do, of course, such as fly.  And it appears that angels can also leave their bodies and possess the bodies of lower creatures, whether men or animals.

If both those things are true, that angels are neither male nor female and that they can leave their bodies and enter into the bodies of lower beings, then that would explain Genesis 6, where we are told that “when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God [angels] saw that the daughters of men were beautiful to look at, and they took wives for themselves, whoever they chose” (Gen. 6:1–2).  There is no way, if angels do not marry, as Jesus said, that angels could have taken women of earth as wives except by forsaking their own bodies and possessing the bodies of men.

Speaking of those perverse angels, Jude wrote, “The angels who did not keep to their own domain but left their proper abode, God has reserved in eternal chains, under gloomy darkness, until the Judgment of the Great Day” (Jude 1:6).  Then Jude goes on to point out that Sodom and Gomorrah sinned the same way those foolish angels did, by pursuing unnatural sexual relations: “Likewise, in a manner similar to these angels, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, indulging in illicit sexual relations and going out after a different kind of flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).  In other words, there is no forgiveness for the angels who left their body to mate with earthly women, and having no hope of mercy, they are, as it were, bound in chains of spiritual darkness, awaiting the Final Judgment when they will be damned forever to suffer in “eternal fire”.

Damned, and Looking

The bodiless, evil angels were allowed back in heaven until Jesus ascended and cast them out forever, but it appears that they were not allowed to return into the bodies God first gave them.  If so, they are no doubt the bodiless spirits that the Bible calls demons, miserable spiritual vagabonds wandering the earth, damned while they live, always searching for bodies to possess while they fearfully wait for the Judgment.

In Luke 11:24, Jesus made it clear that unclean spirits do look for bodies to possess: “When the unclean spirit comes out of a man,” he said, “it passes through dry places seeking rest, and finding none, it says, ‘I’ll return to my house that I came out of.’”  Jesus also revealed that more than one unclean spirit can possess a single earthly body.  In Mark 5:9–13, when Jesus was about to cast a large number of spirits out of a man, he asked the demon that was speaking through the man, “What’s your name?”  The demon answered, “Legion is my name, for we are many.”  Then, when Jesus commanded them to come out, one of them spoke up and “begged Jesus earnestly, that he would not send them out of that region.”  And seeing a large herd of pigs nearby, “all the demons pleaded with him, saying, ‘Send us into the swine, so that we may enter into them.’”  Remarkably, “Jesus gave them permission.  And when the unclean spirits had come out, they entered into the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep slope into the sea and drowned in the sea.”  Of course, after that, the spirits were homeless again and had to search for other bodies to possess.

As for Satan, the ruler of fallen angels, he did not leave his beautiful body until he left it to possess Judas (Jn. 13:27).  And within hours of him doing so, just like the pigs that were possessed by the legion of unclean spirits, Judas went and killed himself.  The death of Judas left Satan bodiless, and assuming that God did not allow him to return to his first body, he has been wandering over the earth since that time, searching for someone to devour (1Pet. 5:8).  One day,  we are told, Satan will find a man whom he will consider worthy of him, and he will again possess a human body and give that man “his power, and his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2).  Child of God, “guard your heart with all diligence.”

Stay in Your Spiritual Body

We were not created with the power to leave our mortal bodies and enter into someone else’s body, as were angels and cherubs (Satan is a cherub), but there is a body that we can forsake, and if we forsake that one, our punishment will be worse than the punishment which foolish angels are facing.  I am speaking about the body of Christ.  We all know that there is a world-wide body of Christ to which every child of God belongs, and if a child of God ever leaves that body, or is cast out of it by Christ (cf. Rev. 3:16), nothing remains for that poor soul but to wait, like fallen angels, for eternal damnation.

There are also local bodies of believers around the globe, bodies created by the operation of God through the Spirit, and we are blessed if God has given us one to live in.  But if a believer becomes self-willed and forsakes the local body of believers that God has put him in and enters into a different body, he is following the ungodly example of foolish angels and Satan.  They forsook the bodies they were given to pursue something they thought was better, but they were all wrong.  Nothing is better for us than what God gives us.

For Life

A believer’s spiritual home is wherever his pastor is, and many of God’s children are homeless because their pastor left that body and moved on.  Saints in such a situation, and there are many of them, often spend years in discouragement and confusion as they look for a real pastor and a permanent spiritual home.  They have done nothing wrong; on the contrary, they have been wronged.  They are like the multitudes in Israel who came to hear Jesus and be healed.  When the Lord saw them, “he was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and downcast, like sheep with no shepherd” (Mt. 9:36).

If God makes a man a pastor, he is a pastor for life.  There is no retirement from that position because it is not a mere position; it is who God makes that man, and he cannot retire from himself.  On the other hand, if God places a believer under the care of a pastor, that pastor and the saints who are with him are made that believer’s home until he leaves this world.  No true pastor will ever separate himself from his flock, and no true believer will ever leave his pastor, either.  Christ expects us all to stay in the body He has put us in; it is sin to forsake it and look for another one.  

Let’s all be like the faithful angels who stayed in the place God had given them.  The place God has given you is better than theirs, and your reward for faithfulness will be better than theirs, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

My Testimony

An excerpt from Pastor John's new book: The Iron Kingdom

Beginning in the late-1970s and throughout the 1980s, it occasionally happened that while I was praying in the Spirit, the Spirit would begin speaking in my own language, fervently saying over and over again – and I knew it was being said to me – “Come on!  Come on!  Come on!”  In the beginning, that exhortation did not trouble me, but when it continued, at seemingly random times of prayer, I started wondering if Jesus was trying to tell me something that I was not understanding.  By the early 1990s, I had begun replying to the Lord when he spoke to me like that, asking him what he meant.  No answer came, and so, I didn’t know what to think, but the exhortation increasingly troubled me.

I distinctly remember one occasion in about 1992 when my frustration became especially acute.  Kneeling in prayer beside my bed, I was praying in the Spirit when the Spirit began again to call to me earnestly in my own language, “Come on! Come on!”  With a sense of desperation, I looked up to heaven and pleaded, “But I am here!  I have already come!  What do you mean by ‘Come on’?  What are you telling me?”  Once again, I received no answer; however, the answer – the unthinkable answer – was not very long in coming.

In early spring, 1993, the astonishing answer finally came, and it changed my life completely.  Jesus showed me that in all those times, through all those years, he had been calling for me to “come on” to him – out of Christianity!  I had striven to be the best Christian I could be; I would have given my life for Christianity, “thinking to do God service”, but now, Jesus was calling me out of that religion!  It would have been impossible for me to have made the distinction between serving Jesus and serving that religion, had Jesus not shown me the difference.  And what a difference there is!

At the time, I thought I was the only person on the planet to have heard such a call from God, and I was afraid.  My mind was consumed with thoughts about it.  It was as if I had been living my life in a deep, dark cave, and suddenly, Jesus had brought me out into the sunlight to behold the real world and its beauty.  I could not take it all in at once; it was in all directions, and it was overwhelming.  I remember talking to Jesus the next day as I entered my office, confessing to him, “Jesus, I am afraid – but don’t stop!”  I knew that what he had revealed to me was true, that Christianity is not of God and that He wants His children to come out of it; at the same time, I felt desperation, for Jesus had revealed truth to me that I scarcely had the faith to believe, and I pleaded with him to give me faith to believe what I now knew to be true.

In the years following, I was blessed to meet other believers who had heard the call to “come out”.  One elderly sister told that one day when she was a young woman vacuuming her house, she heard an audible voice call out to her, “Come out of her!”  The voice was loud enough to be heard over the noise of the vacuum, and she turned it off and went to the front door to see if someone had come in.  But no one was there, and she did not know what to make of the experience.  So, puzzled, she went on back to her housework, but she never forgot it.  There are many such testimonies, and among believers who have heard such a call to come out (or, in my case, to “come on”), I have found none who understood what Jesus was saying when he spoke to them any more than I understood him before 1993.

Driving past a steepled church building two days after Jesus revealed to me the meaning of what he had been saying for so long, I felt like a complete stranger to the religion that had produced that church building.  This was my first experience with what it truly means to be “a pilgrim and a stranger” on this earth, no longer belonging among Christians, just as I had for some time not belonged among sinners.

I was taught from the beginning of my walk with the Lord that no Christian sect, that is, no denomination, is the body of Christ.  But if Christian sects are not the body of Christ, what are they?  At the time, I did not know.  In a radio sermon in about 1977, I posed that question to my audience, not because I knew the answer, but because I wanted the answer.  That answer is what Jesus gave me in 1993.  Christianity itself, with all its sects, is an institution that God abhors.  It claims falsely to represent Christ, and it provides no security from the coming wrath of God.  The whole religion of Christianity is a fraud; it is a damnable lie.

What a relief it was to let go of the title, “Christian”!  And what a relief it was to cease from trying to “make Christianity pure again”, as I previously thought I should do!  Those thoughts were the biggest part of my confusion.  For Christianity has never been pure; it arose among apostate saints after the beginning of the New Testament, perverting the pure faith of Christ.  “Christianity” provides no cure for the sins of man; it is, in fact, the name of the disease from which the body of Christ has need to be cured for almost two millennia.  Christianity is the thing that ruined the fellowship of believers and has dimmed the light of God in the world.

I believe the Bible.  I trust it to be historically and prophetically true.  I believe that Jesus is Lord of all, that he was born of the virgin Mary, that he suffered and died for our sins, that on the third day, he was raised from the dead by the power of God, that he ascended into heaven to offer himself to God for our sins, that he will return at the appointed time to reign on earth a thousand years, and that in the Final Judgment, he will be the Judge of both the living and the dead.  I believe that there is no hope of salvation except by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  Jesus has filled me with his Spirit and taught me.  I am his servant.

I also believe that the religious system known as Christianity is an abomination to both God and Jesus.  I believe that, to date, Christianity is Satan’s crowning achievement; and that by it, he has successfully divided and confused the body of Christ; and that he reigns over the flock of God through Christian ministers, though they do not realize it.  And I believe that in order for God’s people to attain to the unity and purity that Jesus prayed they would enjoy, they must come out of Christianity.

I am, by the wonderful grace of God, a follower of Jesus.  I am also, by that same grace, not a Christian and not a part of what you know as Church religion.

The Iron Kingdom Series, of which this book is the third part, is an explanation and defense of my faith.

Friday, August 28, 2020

“In Christ’s stead,” I implore you all...

Don’t let head-knowledge deceive you.  NOBODY knows the truth who does not have fellowship with the upright in body of Christ.  Jesus is God’s truth, and without fellowship with him and those who walk with him in light, there is no knowledge of the truth.

I could name a number of people, now backslidden, who thought they knew the truth because their heads could understand the doctrine.

Fellowship is the whole thing!  Without it, there is no true life – none of the life Jesus suffered and died for.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Fast that God Has Chosen

Some men in ancient Israel were disappointed when they fasted from food, but God still would not answer their prayers.  “Why have we fasted,” they complained, “and you take no notice?  We have afflicted our souls, but you do not acknowledge it!” (Isa. 58:3a).  God then answered them, through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, that they were fasting the wrong way.  To fast, He explained, is not to merely abstain from food; it was a godly lifestyle, which He went on to describe.

As I read the short list of deeds and attitudes that God considers to be a true fast, the last element of that fast struck me because it reminded me of how Jesus said he lived before God.  Isaiah said, “If you honor God by not pursuing your own ways, nor choosing your own will, nor saying a word of yourself . . . .”  When I read that last phrase, “nor saying a word”, I remembered that Jesus said this: “When you lift up the Son of man, then you’ll know that I’m the one, and I’m doing nothing on my own, but as my Father taught me, I say these things” (Jn. 8:28).  “My doctrine is not mine,” he told the people, “but His who sent me” (Jn. 7:16).

None of us, on our own, really have anything worthwhile to say because, on our own, none of us really know anything.  To wait on God for what to say is a tacit confession of that truth, and Jesus always waited on God.

We are free to have our preferences in this life of colors, food, and other earthly things, and we are free to enjoy the earthly things we like.  But in judgment or in teaching, if we would please God, we will not say a word of our own.  Righteous judgment and eternal truth come from God alone, and to live in that truth is part of the fast that God has chosen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Communicating the Truth Requires Patience

The communication of truth requires patience on the part of both the teacher and the student.  The truth cannot be declared in a moment, unless we just say, “Jesus”, and leave it at that.  But even then, we must sit at his feet, as his disciples had to do, and patiently hear him.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Human Anger

The following are some verses that deal with fleshly, human anger.  We would do well to take them in, for if we do not listen to God’s counsel, we may be overcome by the spirit of anger that is raging on earth in our time.  And those who are overcome by fleshly anger, Paul said, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Biblical counsel #1: Forsake Human Anger

Psalm 37:8 – Refrain from anger and depart from rage.  Do not fret yourself in any way to do evil.

Ephesians 4:31 – Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Colossians 3:8 – And put away all these things as well: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy talk from your mouth

1Timothy 2:8 – So then, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger and argument.

Biblical counsel #2: Human Anger Does Not Accomplish Anything Good

James 1:19-20 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, let every man be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 – Now, the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, immorality, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, emulation, angry outbursts, rivalries, disputes, divisions, envy, murder, bouts of drunkenness, revelings, and things like these, concerning which things, I forewarn you, as I also warned you previously, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Luke 4:28-29 – When they heard [Jesus speak], everybody in the synagogue was filled with rage, and they rose up and threw him out of the city, and they led him to the brow of the mountain on which their city was built, to throw him off the cliff.

Acts 19:28-29 – When they heard this, they were filled with rage and began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Then the whole city was filled with tumult, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, traveling companions of Paul.

Biblical counsel #3: Fathers, Beware

Ephesians 6:4 – And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21– Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they be discouraged.

Biblical counsel #4: Fools Are Full of It

Ecclesiastes 7:9 – Do not be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Proverbs 12:16 – A fool is known in the day of his wrath, but a prudent man covers over an insult.

Proverbs 27:3 – A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s anger is heavier than them both.

Proverbs 21:24 – His name is scorner who is proud and haughty, acting in arrogant pride. 

Biblical counsel #5: Be Slow to Anger

Proverbs 14:29 – The man who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is hasty exalts foolishness.

Proverbs 16:32 – He who is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he who governs his spirit, than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger causes strife to cease.

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

Biblical counsel #6: Results of Fleshly Anger

Proverbs 19:19 – A man given to anger will bear punishment, for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

Proverbs 30:33 – For as the churning of milk produced curds, and the wringing of the nose produces blood, so the pressing of anger produces strife.