|The Truth Which Sets Free - Destiner Press|
For free online reading simply click on the Chapters listed below.
An exposure of the false teaching of Christianity concerning the reason for evil and suffering. This is one of the most challenging and deepest areas in the Word of God.
The following four booklets are now also included in the Addendum of The Truth Which Sets Free.
Chapter 18. Church Planting or Assembly?
A few years ago my friend John of Oz told me that the clergy in a particular Australian town were claiming that they would take the whole valley for Christianity. From the steep hill where he lived we could see most of the churches and church schools, and we knew what was taught inside their walls. "Im afraid it has already happened," I told him, "What a crying shame." This instantly initiated a meaty conversation with other disciples present, several of them taken aback on hearing such a non-conformist statement from one who worships Christ. Yes, even amongst those who know the difference between the true and the false there is an astonishing veil over their eyes when they look at the church. But this is exactly what the issue is, whether one conforms to God or to the church. The church has worked for two thousand years as a substitute for Christ. It is a masterfully subtle creation, Satans ace card, and he plays it again and again in the battle for souls. Waking up to the true God is a very great shock, because it is a clarification that pours light on the darkness of the church, revealing its real nature. That is why Jesus and John the Baptist slammed the clergy so hard in front of the common folk. Even though it should be obvious, people need to hear such high voltage verbal jolts, a legitimate and even essential form of "fishing," which sorts and reveals the species most surprisingly.
If you have been to Europe you will have seen those countless spires and great houses, those parish boundaries where church and state divided up the people in parcels for themselves and kept them in the dark for centuries at a time, taxing them into the ground, feeding them their sacraments and gospels. Walk around in those houses made with hands and smell the musty odors. Ive been in so many of them, and spoken to the "duly ordained" hirelings who could tell me about every buttress, apse, pulpit, altar and nave, and which important worldly person was buried there, the exact date that the baptismal font was installed, and nothing of the Word of God. Here is where countless millions have dutifully dozed in the pew and finally slipped comfortably into the bottomless pit. Read the inscriptions on the graves, those sugary platitudes no better than todays bumper-stickers. This is the best hiding place from the Word ever invented in Jesus name. This is the house not of his making, and the herd not of his calling. Church, church everywhere and not a drop of truth.
"Ah," you say, "That was then, this is now." True, and nothing has changed. The goats still talk incessantly of church planting, concocting foolish demographic schemes, dividing up the map with target pins as though men had the plan of salvation in their hands like a commercial franchise. Religion is big business, and it uses the worlds techniques and ploys. "If you really want to make a lot of money, start your own religion." (L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology) Like any arena or house of entertainment they say, "Build it and they will come." No way did the apostles use such methods. They had no assumption that anyone in the crowd was a sheep unless so revealed by the Word. And they would never have built something to house them before they appeared, nor afterward; they would not have built any temple whatsoever. Once the goats build their temples they must fill them, and for that they need their myriad gospels. They build, they come, they sit through the set order of service, and off to lunch, Sabbath accomplished. Such tactics are not for the elect. We have one simple policy, the Word, and we look and hope for the elect destined to our time: no more, no less, those whose names were written down long ago, to appear in each generation. We do not know whose ears will hear, but with them we fellowship, however many or few. The ekklesia is not an organization, it is an organism. We belong to a living body. The church wants to pigeonhole how it will be. To them Jesus says that He is not the God of the dead but of the living. The true assembling together (Hebrews 10:25) has nothing to do with a church sabbath or the house made with hands, or sitting in a pew listening to the goats bleat.
That is not to say one should never enter a church. There have been times in history when this superstition has been put to political use, election polling booths being placed in Roman Catholic churches because it was known that Protestants would not enter what they considered unholy ground, thus assuring an unbalanced vote. This is ridiculous. There is neither unhallowed ground nor sacred place, since Christ has abolished even the earthly holy of holies. The goats may be unholy, but they cannot defile you unless you let their gospels into your heart and soul. The elect are free to walk where they may, as long as they wear the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:11) You must especially put on this protection if you plan to enter a house made with hands. I do not visit churches very often, finding them as depressing as funerals, whether the goats sit somberly or wave enthusiastically in their pews as their time runs out. But from time to time I do go in, just as I read Christian books sporadically, to see what the enemy is thinking and doing. On extremely rare occasions I have gone to hear a prophet whom the goats accidentally let in the pulpit. This happened one memorable morning in Australia where I was given advance notice that it was likely, because the regular "minister" was absent. I heard a visitor deliver a most unexpected and powerful message of electing grace from Galatians and Ephesians. Afterwards, outside, I heard the elders planning damage control, one cursing the message in four letter words. So that evening I went again, to hear one of those elders take the very same passages (salvation by grace, the incomparable person and work of Christ) and start with the words, "This is all about the church, the house of God, and we are gathered in it today." The difference was night and day, and I was fascinated by the moronic blank stares of the sabbath-goers as their elder proceeded to worship church structure and organization. There is no other apt word for his adulation of the ace card; he was so in love with it. Two or three people woke up that night and walked out, never to return. Later I sat around the best place for true assembly ever given to the elect, and so favored by Jesus himself, a large kitchen table. A few disciples were angry and disappointed. They should have been rejoicing that for one brief period that morning the goats actually heard the Word. Then I understood. They wanted it to go further than that, to somehow revive the whole place and claim it for the Lord. No, that is never the commission, not to repair nor reform the house which is not of Gods making. Those who walked out showed the true Way, just as those who heard the apostles left the pagan temples behind and went out with them. They did not stay in a place because they woke up to the Word there, nor tolerate the dead goats infiltrating their fellowship, on the contrary, they separated. (Acts 17:32-34; 1 John 2:19) Jesus said, "Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury the dead." (Matthew 8:22)
Yes, this is one of the marks of election, avoiding the false and seeking true fellowship. This is no easy choice, it can mean finding out that a whole lifetime has been wasted, that all things are not what they seemed to be, that decades of cherished beliefs have been uncomfortably swept away by the Light in a split second. And it is sad, this thing with the church. How many times I have talked with disciples who wished it were not so, that all was instead clean cut and straight, that there was no deceit, no such devious invention by the Evil One. Arthur Pink wrote that this melancholy is how the real children of God feel, another mark of election, like their Master who was both a man of joy and a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, weeping over Jerusalem and its constant rejection of Him, both elated at salvations prospects and grieved at the travesty of religion around him. (Matthew 23:37) Be at peace with God and yet not at peace with the world. This too is a mark of election, this characteristic trait of Lot. The lights of mans buildings attract, even though Abraham says those places are rotten, and we are loath to abandon them despite what is plainly wrong. But our dissatisfaction is a sign of life. If we are not vexed like Lot then we must be blind to what is going on, or at the very least in slumber. And then God pulls us out, entirely by grace. The Hebrew translates that Lots esteemed visitors dragged him out (before the impending destruction), the Lord being merciful to him (Genesis 19:16). That, along with the blinding conversion of Paul, even throwing him to the ground, is a classic illustration of the Way at work, grace in action. No "inviting Jesus into your heart" here, as though the unregenerate goats were capable of such a thing, or that the Almighty waits on mans pleasure and decision. As one of my old mentors, a free preacher in a fellowship of ten or twelve disciples in a village in England used to say, "God is working. Out of nothing He brought forth all that was and is and is to be. He is calling out a people for Himself." That man laid bare the Scriptures that popular "evangelists" like Billy Graham, the Billy Goat of the American mold, would not understand if they were pumped into their ears with a vets syringe. The people of that little place had no idea who lived among them, and down the road they flocked in great numbers to Methodist and Pentecostal churches.
I count myself extremely favored that the Word was brought to me outside the church and that for almost all of my 30 years with God I have been saved from it. True fellowship is something else again, and I have walked years at a time in isolation. And every disciple I have ever met and trusted has gone through similar phases. The church does not want a person to acquire a faith that does not depend on them or need to conform to them. But God does create such a saving faith, conforming His own to His Son. Indeed, God delights in hammering his people into shape in the wilderness, forging in them that stand-alone faith which resists the wiles of the church. This is not a pleasant experience, but it comes with the territory. I have also known very intimate fellowship similar to New Testament gatherings. This also is not something that can be planned. The Spirit blows where He will. We knew what was happening was the real thing, because we did not design it and because we could not stop it. It just grew, and as the need arose we chose those who would teach each group according to their own stature in the Word. That was an experience, judging anothers trust and capability. Yet the Lord never let us make a mistake, and we were always unanimous in selection. None of them were from theological colleges. People came from all over the city, from abattoir workers to bishops, to that ekklesia. Many stayed way into the night and stretched our abilities, maturity and discretion to the limit: long practising Christians plagued with terrible doubts, policemen in anguish over the unpleasant parts of their jobs, actors questioning their life of paid pretense, drugged-out rock band players, transvestites feeling terrible conviction, some in tears and all saying that in no way would they have sought help in a church or trusted any confession there.
At least one evening meal in two was shared at anothers kitchen table, and in some cases on laps and on the floor. We did not call them table talks, but that was what they were, the assembly of the elect around the table of fellowship, exactly what happened in houses with Luther or Tyndale. When the Lords course was run we were dispersed on our various ways, just like the disciples of old. There was no church building used, nor an empty shell left behind. At peak numbers those fellowships were breaking the seams of the houses where they met. If they had grown any more they would have required division. Yes, division, even of the sheep. No ekklesia can expand forever, and it should never yield to the temptation to build a fixed structure to house a certain amount or a projected future number. Such presumption is for the goats and their churches. Small assemblies are usually the key, where personal care and attention are possible, and where opportunities for lordship are easily dismissed. Thousands gathering to hear the Word from a Whitefield or Spurgeon are extremely rare. Most large crowds are worthy of immediate suspicion that some easy gospel has been introduced. Whitefield was often stoned, especially in Ireland where his friends ran away, leaving him covered in blood to walk the gauntlet alone, and the bishop of London denounced his message. Who could imagine anyone bothering to do this to Billy Graham or Robert Schuller in his absurd house of glass? These "ministers," enthusiastically dishing out "evanjellybeans," their acceptable and sugary candies, are received by the church with glee, and rightly regarded by the world as jokers and charlatans, no threat at all. No bishop will have any problem with them. Their gospels are only too agreeable and add to the same huge flock. Especially watch out for anyone claiming the "gift of administration" which every aspiring clergyman dreams about. The bigger a fellowship becomes the less personal, the easier for goats to sneak in unaware. Soon you will have a group as unbalanced and troublesome as the Corinthians to whom Paul wrote, weak in faith, pathetic in their stand and consequently infested with unbelievers. That is the mire in which fully-fledged churchmen are conceived. It is no mere coincidence that Corinth was one of the first places in history where a Christian church was erected. I am absolutely sure the sheep had long separated from the goats by then. I saw this happen in South Africa once, returning after two years to what had once been an excellent fellowship. I had previously listened in awe to a nineteen year old preach, and he sounded like a young Spurgeon. In that short time it had become a bastion of churchdom, the same old gospel of death, and all the lights absent. I asked the "minister" outright where the elect were now meeting. He knew exactly what I meant, and he was not at all pleased.
Lastly, and I write this specifically for the "remnant saved by grace" who may be experiencing true fellowship or desiring it, never ever fall into the habit of demanding to know where others were last week. If your Word is true the right fish will turn up in your net, and if they are not always there it will be because the Lord has something else for them to do. You must accept His sovereignty. Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." His sheep belong to him, not you. They may not have come because your food was lacking meat. It is for them to volunteer any such information. That nosy prodding disguised as concern, what Australians aptly call being a "sticky-beak," is classic goatish behavior, the church wanting to be sovereign, insisting on their regular meetings in their houses on their sabbaths. If you have read this far then you know very well why they do it, why they make it such a guilt trip, and why they are much more interested in numbers than truth, in others attendance than what they believe. And they will feed their goats anything they think will keep them there. How many of them would be as ready to defend and proclaim the difficult words of Christ as they would uphold the traditions of the church? Away with their gospel of sabbath-worship. Read Isaiah chapter 1 again and again. The ordinary worker who does his task as to the Lord during the week is performing a work that is holy, but the priest on Sunday is a walking travesty. That is something that Luther got absolutely right, to the rage of the priests. To them and to all the forms of clergy I say, "I count all things as dung for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:8) The ekklesia are the sons and daughters, not the slaves. You are set free, I repeat, set free. Do not be short-changed by the counterfeit. By all means meet, and meet regularly, or as convenient, or as work and tasks permit, but with others who have ears to hear, and never out of obligation or guilt laid by men. I would meet seven days a week with treasured disciples if I were permitted.