March 20, 2010
You may have heard on the radio, TV, from the pulpit, or in books, that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship. I agree. I know that when God saved me and many of you, He began a relationship. Based on His Name, His promises, and His Love, he began a Heavenly Father to son or daughter relationship. We became children of God, children of our Heavenly Father. We have this relationship because of Him. All is well, and will be well if we do not let this relationship become corrupted. Religion is one such corrupting force.
I was told in the 7th grade that religion is “man’s attempt to get to God.” This seemed, at the time, to make sense. The last 2 weeks I have been looking at my life with God, my relationship with Him. What occurred to me was that religion is of the flesh. I had always looked at the sinful flesh as consisting of the obvious filth and vulgarity. Sinful flesh wants to break the 10 commandments. The flesh is murder, pride, filthy talk, envy, all the lists in the bible. Paul alone had 2 or 3 lists of works of the flesh. I never thought of religion being of the flesh. I never thought the flesh would want to practice religion, because of my mistaken application of the verses in Romans about the flesh being against the Spirit. Religion isn't Spirit. Religion is of the flesh and it tries to practice relationship.
We Christians can look at all the religions of the world and condemn them as false and we would be right. Jesus “is the way, and the truth, and the life, No one comes to the Father but by him.” This is the most unreligious religious statement dealing with religion I can think of. The way to God is God and the way you get on the way is to be born of God. In God’s eyes the way to Him IS HIM. It is relationship. We look at the Pharisees and see them as obvious bad examples of religious Jewish people in Jesus time, but you will see that we are not far from their sins in our approach to God.
The mistake I make, and maybe you do to is, seeing the religion in our relationship with God and eventually replacing our relationship with it. I mistake all the scriptures about the Pharisees or the people of God with Moses as Jews not following God. I never thought that that these were human beings called into relationship and resorted to either idolatry or religion instead of relationship. We Christians are called into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We receive His Holy Spirit and are called continually into fellowship with the Father. The scriptures like John 13-17, 1st John 1-5 show us the intimate relationship we have with the Father through Jesus. Current members of COBU could look at these scriptures and see if this is the relationship they have now with God. Ex-members also could look and see. Only recently did I return to my relationship with the Father. My greatest problem was not giving my heart completely to Him. I have for so long thought, "I will not fully trust God because He burned me in COBU and I can't trust Him not to burn me again." I realized that the time had come to say once for all, "God didn't burn me. He loves me. He has always loved me and He is trustworthy." So I ran to my Father and gave my whole self to Him. I have no reservation any longer. Since then I have time with the Father that is beyond me. His promises are true, His love is real. His word makes sense. Now I compare the life I had under old mind sets and the enemies lies. We who believe in God through Jesus do have a choice. We will either know Him, abide in Him, and truly be ready for his coming or we will rely on religion about Him to save us.We Christians read the scripture, “Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and do many mighty works in your name. And He will say to them, “I never knew you, Depart from me.” These people were prophecying In His Name, they were doing mighty works In His Name. “Not everyone who calls me Lord will enter.” What were these people doing? Who were they? Were they holding the form of religion but denying the power of it? They weren't doing Jewish things, Mosaic law works, they were doing Christian works. Jesus never knew them. There never was a relationship. Knowing him can only be if there is a relationship with Him. “ He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Loving others is knowing God. Knowing God is loving others.
Let’s think about right now. Our flesh would love to do the religion of Christianity but would face death if we pursued a relationship with God. When we draw near to God our sin is exposed, our sinful nature revealed, and we, out of the love He poured into our hearts, we respond by putting to death the deeds of the flesh and get closer to Our Father. The more this relationship grows and strengthens in the Spirit, the greater the spiritual desire for relationship, not the fleshly desire for religion; the greater the desire to look wisely down the road and see what sin or temptation might harm our relationship with the Father. When we are in religion we don’t care about avoiding sin, we are dull to the Spirit, dull to the relationship and we religiously hope on the method of the practice to be good enough for eternal life. Many Pharisees would agree with the religious way.
Today I thought about the Jews and how God gave the law through Moses to them. My simple observation was of the sacrifices set down by God for the people to perform. Think about it, humanly speaking, they were doing what God told them to do: obedience, right? Gosh, how could they go wrong, following the law of God? Well, if it’s the heart that matters, and it is, then the doing doesn’t count. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In 1st John it says, “ We love, because He first loved us.” “If anyone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1st John makes much more sense now. We are known to the world by our love for one another. Our love comes from God, who is Love. The Fruits of the Spirit: “Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control, against such there is no law.” Relationship to God in the Spirit of God produces the fruits of love. Religion in any form feeds the flesh and produces self justification.
I saw religion creeping into my relationship with God this week. I have a time set aside to pray. This is new for me. Perhaps it’s new for you. Out of “not being religious” I ignored the teachings about prayer and having your “quiet time” with the Lord for years. Religious people take security in the method or the tradition of what works in Relationship. “They worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.”If we do pray a certain way and our prayer time is "good," the religious tendency is to duplicate the action for the same result, thus we give power and honor to the method rather than the One who made our time with Him a blessing. So I’m in my time of prayer with Our Father. Yesterday, I prayed first, then was silent for a time, then I read the bible, then I was silent, listening, then I prayed again, then I worshiped, then I was silent. I do not remember the order in which I did all this and IN A RELATIONSHIP, IT DOESN’T MATTER Religion copies down the method and seeks to duplicate the action with a wrong heart or no heart toward God. I am easily tempted to pray a certain way in the hope I get a certain inspiration, a feeling, a something from God that will indicate all the things I should already believe about Him by faith. There are some guides in the bible of the “How to” but God is always looking at the heart, why we are doing and saying what we are doing and saying. It’s the heart, it’s relationship.
The Pharisee were the big examples of Religion not Relationship. when Jesus walked right up to them, since they had no relationship with God, they did not recognize Him. “This people honors me with their lips but there hearts are far from me.”
Look at this passage:
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" 27 And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live." 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Religion asks, “How do I get into Heaven, What do I do?” Jesus’ answer: Love God and Love your neighbor (relationship). But religion wants to justify itself, “Can you be more specific, what’s the method, give me the nuts and bolts. Tell me that my religion will work too." Jesus tells the Good Samaritan parable. Notice the Priest and the Levite, who by their religion did not love the beaten man. The Samaritan showed love. He was able to because of the relationship he had with God, he could love. Can we love without God. No! Religion:“Lord didn’t we do this, and didn’t we do that, and didn’t we?” Well sure Religion does a lot, but Religion uses works as proof of relationship. “I led 6 people to Jesus this week and I had a bible study and 22 people came and yada, yada, fill in the blanks. Why does anyone bring up works? What context could possibly justify this boasting or this accounting . What inspires ex-members to check your numbers? "We all know the John 15 scripture, "That you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." There is a problem with how we were taught this in cobu. Stewart's religion values numbers and quantities. Relationship values God and His love for us, and from this love we love others and, “THE LORD added to their number those who were being saved. Out of our love for Him and for one another the true witness of Christ goes out and the fruit is good. John 15 says 'IF YOU ABIDE IN ME." Some ex-members rush out to prove their faithfulness instead of abiding in Him and naturally bearing fruit. If it were a numbers game, then Paul was a pretty rotten Christian at the end of his life when he wrote that all had deserted him in Asia, 2 Timothy 1 :15 and 4:9-18. Goodness, Paul had retention problems. I don’t think he would have been voted to go out to a center. I’ll bet his chart was hardly filled in, and his journal was empty. But he was always really good at “thinking and speaking in scripture or always coming from a scripture at all times.” Of course he wrote most of the New Testament. I don’t know if Stewart would consider that cheating.
Religion puts faith in the method not the Man Christ Jesus. If I do the thing then I will get the reward. I pray 10 times a day. Wow, impressive. I fast twice a week. Really? I give money and I don’t sin like most people. I am not a “church” Christian, I’m for real. I’m serious about Jesus, not like most of the Christians in America.” Religion classes and compares itself, measures itself, quantifies itself, judges itself, while the believer in Jesus who is in relationship with God looks only to the Father and cries out against the sins he or she committed that hurt the relationship, repents, seeks forgiveness and mercy and seeks wisdom and understanding as to how to resist sin, avoid sin, put to death the flesh, and how to please God the Father.
I have been pressed by a certain brother about a certain end times teaching and how urgent it is for me to “prepare for the end.” I know all the verses and so do you if you heard Stewart for years and years.
Religion and the End TimesRelationship trust The Father’s Love. “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.” If you are ready to come out of your seat and punch the monitor, sit back down and listen.
How many scriptures have we read with the theme, “This is not your own doing, it is a gift of God,” “Abide in me and I in you, for apart from me, YOU CAN DO NOTHING. Trust in the Lord with All your heart, do not rely on your own insight” and the hundreds of verses where “The Battle is the Lord’s”? Okay, do you have your mind on these verses? Okay, Why would God tell us and train us our whole Christian life to trust Him, rely on Him, abide in Him, basically, be totally dependent on Him, and then, at the time of the end, tell us, “Okay, you’re on you own now, buddy. Good luck with getting extra oil for your lamp. Don’t ask me where to get some. It’s up to you now, and if you can’t endure long enough, well then, when I come, I won’t take you.”
You got to go to this church and listen to this teaching and get this understanding and pack your head and sweat really hard and do mighty works in His name and prophecy in His name and when He comes looking for those who know him, who love him, who have a relationship with Him, Religion will point to its works, it’s methods and, IT, and its adherents will be left. You might be wondering what Jesus meant by all His words of preparation and watchfulness. What about getting extra oil for our lamps? “Who then is the Faithful and Wise servant?” FAITHFUL AND WISE. Where does faith come from? The Spirit of God. Where does Wisdom come from? From “God who gives to all men generously. But let him ask in Faith.” You want to be ready for the end, you want to have extra oil, understanding, the ability to watch, the ability to know what you are seeing? Then keep your relationship with the Only One who can supply your every need? Relationship with the Father means you ask anything according to His will, He hears you and will say yes to your call for wisdom, yes to your call for understanding, yes to your asking for more faith, to do more to please Him, out of the Love you have for Him because He first Loved you. It was always Him, it is Him now, and it will always be Him. Abide in Him. Think of the “end times” scriptures about false christs and false prophets. If they say He’s over here, he is in this church, you got to go to this guy because He has this teaching, He’s the only one who knows the way. A brother or sister in Christ who has a relationship with our Lord will not be fooled. “My sheep hear my voice, a stranger they will not follow.” Sheep are completely dependent upon the shepherd. The best thing a sheep can do is stay with the shepherd. Oh, but now we are mature Christians and we aren’t sheep anyone. Baloney! "Once you were straying like sheep but no have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” Jesus said in John 10 that he gives His sheep eternal life. At the judgment He separates the sheep from the goats. According to Stewart there is a progression and a morphing of some sort that we, at some point, are no longer sheep. It was a teaching that moved us away from relationship with the shepherd to his form of religion. The sheep to shepherd relationship is vital for our very lives here and it is the beginning of our eternal life. Again, I say, if the scripture says apart from Jesus we can do nothing, why are these brothers running around, acting like it’s up to them and their strength, their understanding, and their wisdom to be ready for the end? Could it be that they don’t trust that God loves them and would prepare them for the close of the age? God wants to be King over us, but we take more security in a king we can see, one whom we can serve religiously. We made Stewart king and rejected God’s majesty in our hearts. This is our sin, and we must repent and return to Our True King of Kings and Lord of lords.
Part of getting ready for the end is having wisdom and understanding and being watchful. That is clear. Who then is the faithful and WISE servant. But your wisdom and understanding can only come from God, and He would only grant understanding to those who want to use the understanding to be with Him , to stay with Him in relationship. But also remember, it's Faithful and wise servant. Those Christians who study real hard to figure out the end and who are not faithful to Jesus in loving others will be separated from those who did their Master's will.
31 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
What appears to be the point here? Is it that the sheep and the goats were judged as to whether they figured out when the Lord would appear and judge? The unbalanced emphasis Stewart had on understanding taught us all to 1) rely on Stewart and 2) rely on bible understanding to save us and our faithfulness was faithfulness to Stewart's religion and idolatry and not to Jesus . When the Son of Man comes He will be looking for those who loved others because He loved them first, and He will not accept religious works as a cheap substitute for "Loving the least of these." The only way we believers in God through Jesus will be ready to meet Him as FAITHFUL AND WISE servants is if we are abiding in His Love and are granted wisdom and understanding, and we are abiding in His love and therefore able to love the least of these."
Religion is burdensome. “They bind heavy burdens hard to bear and bind them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with their finger.”Remember all the rules and charts and numbers and hoops we had to keep track of while Stewart, the binder in this case, didn't seem to be doing any heavy lifting himself. He taught us that He did, but there's no evidence. And what does our Lord say, “Take My Yoke upon you and learn from me: for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Religion drops a load on the believers and teaches them that salvation comes through bearing the load, doing the works, serving the religion. Jesus talks about a yoke. Isn’t a yoke something for two oxen? Could it be that we are yoked with Jesus in relationship and his yoke is easy and light because He is with us in relationship wearing the yoke with us? “For we have not a high Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sinning.” Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. And what is this law? What is His commandment? John 13:34-35 “A New commandment I give to you, to love one another even as I have loved you, that you love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” What is the witness to the world? Religion racks up the numbers to justify it’s existence and standing with God. Relationship preaches the love of God and draws the sinner to the cross, to the greatest love, and the sinner begins his relationship with God by our Father forgiving him and pouring His Spirit inside the sinner. The thief on the cross next to Jesus didn’t have the opportunity to “go witnessing” or “practice the 6 steps of Love.” It was a relationship in its shortest life on earth which ushered the thief into an eternity with Jesus.
Religion Pays for its Own Sins
Ultimately, Religion believes it can pay for its own sins and save itself. Those who practice religion don’t need relationship. They are secure in just “the doing”, the method, the “how to.” The scriptures in Galatians about "by works of the law shall no man be justified," is a look at those early believers who had sought justification through the Blood of Jesus Christ and were being taught by the Circumcision party that they could be justified by keeping the law. Once again, substitute the Jewish context for the Christian. Are there Christians today who insist on a certain way to serve Jesus. Do they insist on a certain doctrine or teaching? Does the way they serve God and the way you serve God matter more to them, than your relationship with the Father? I have encountered some. They will not recognize or rejoice with other Christians if they judge them as not supporting their religion, their way of serving. I will soon write a piece titled, Doctrine, Division, and Denomination, Lord willing. It is certain for any Christian who has a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ TO HAVE FELLOWSHIP with any other Christian on the entire planet if that other Christian also has a relationship with God the Father through Jesus. “Eager to Maintain the Unity of the Spirit, in the Bond of Peace.” It is not unity of the Doctrine, or unity of the Denomination, or the religion, it is unity in the Spirit of God, which we have by the relationship God initiated and upholds. We make the choice to stay in relationship or depart from it. One of the many choices when you leave your relationship with God is to serve Him religiously and, in the end, the religious will be surprised they are not going with Him. “Those who have loved His appearing,” will meet the Lord in the air, and then we shall always be with the Lord.” Religious people have their own way to save themselves. They do not accept the salvation and the relationship and the eternal life through Jesus. They have their own way of getting to God."
WorksReligion seeks the knowledge of “How Do I, How Can I, What are the instructions?” “What must we do, to be doing the works of God.” Notice, “works” plural. “Jesus answered them, This is the work of God,(singular) that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
Look at the passage:
28 Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." 30 So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world." 34 They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always." 35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.
Jesus told them that the “work” of God was to believe in Him. They wanted the “what do I have to do” answer which is their religion, their own efforts. Jesus points them to relationship with him. See how here and in other passages these Jews run to Moses for cover."What sign do you do, Moses gave our fathers manna," “We are disciples of Moses, you are His disciples.” “We are children of Abraham.” If they had believed Moses, they would have believed Jesus, for he wrote of Him, right? Religion is blind to relationship. If you are truly loving God and serving Him, then He will give you wisdom and understanding to KNOW HIM and when reading Moses and the Law, you would know Him and see Him. "21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 22 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." These verses apply now in our relationship with the Son and it applies to us in getting ready for the end. P>
Bearing fruit and so proving to be his disciples. Well in Cobu translation that means converts, lambs, bible studies with growing numbers. So the brother goes out witnessing and leads people to Jesus and has bible studies and proves to be Jesus’ disciple. There’s something missing though. If the brother is going out to prove he is one of Jesus’ disciple then he is following his religion. It is this kind of attitude that eventually cries out, “Lord, did we not go witnessing, like you told us to, and didn’t we have bible studies like you said we should? Where is the relationship with God? Let me be contextually scriptural, Where is the abiding in the vine? We only bear fruit IF WE ABIDE IN HIM. The religious person asks, “What does that look like” “How do I do this” “What must I do to be doing "IT" the right way?” Jesus says “Believe in Me, Abide in Me, Abide in My Love.” The "Works"-Man hates to hear this stuff. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Righteous deeds are filthy rags to God. Why? Because they are used to earn a righteousness and a justification as a substitute for what Jesus did for us on the cross. P>
So how do we work, the right way, the way that pleases God? Let’s start with this scripture:
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-- 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Seek first the relationship, and the works, which God has already set up will be there for you to walk in. Most of this passage is God establishing the relationship we have with Him in Christ---God, rich in mercy, great love, saved us, made us alive, showing grace and kindness. It is by grace that we have been saved, through faith and this is not WORKS(religion), It is God’s love and mercy that brought us into relationship in the first place. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, God has all good works planned before hand," that we should walk in them.” Funny language…..walking in works….walking in works God set up for us, walking in them. Doesn’t sound like sweating to prove anything. How do we know what the works are so that we can walk in them? My guess is if you have a relationship with the One who loves you and died to save you, He will lead you in the way that will accomplish the works he set up for you to do."But I say, Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the Religion, I mean flesh." It seems like, in a loving relationship, all you have to “do” is abide in Him, because He abides in you and the works will be obvious and you will do them from love not from an anxiety to prove you’re a Christian.
Love is the antidote to religion and religious behavior. John 15, abiding in the Vine is 1st John, abiding in His love. If we abide, live, in His love, we then love others because He first loved us, when He died for us and poured His Spirit into our Hearts. One of the fruit of the Spirit inside us is love. Yes, we do works, but are they the works of God He planned beforehand, and by walking by the Spirit, we will walk in these works. Think back to “Did we not do many mighty works in your name.” You can do the work, the Christian work, but if it does not come from a relationship with Our Father, then most likely He didn’t authorize the labor, and the works won’t buy you entrance into His Kingdom. Because of our relationship with God we work the works of Him who sent us.” Relationship works FROM Salvation. Religion works hard FOR Salvation.
Look again at Luke 10: Martha and Mary:
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." 41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."
What can we learn from this? Relationship is the good or better portion, which shall not be taken away. This is in the same chapter as the Good Samaritan parable. What is also in the this same Luke 10 is this:
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" 18 And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." 21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 22 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
Jesus sends the disciples out to preach the gospel and to do the works He set beforehand for them to do. They come back and are thrilled about the works. Jesus says, "I saw Satan's defeat, I was there. But don't focus on the works or the abilities I have given you, rejoice in that you have Eternal Life with Me." Relationship over works.
The word Justified came up during the parable of the Good Samaritan, “But he desiring to justify himself said, “And who is my neighbor.” Justification. What is it? Merriam Webster on line Dictionary:
Main Entry: jus•ti•fy
1 a : to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable b (1) : to show to have had a sufficient legal reason (2) : to qualify (oneself) as a surety by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property
2 a archaic : to administer justice to b archaic : absolve c : to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation
3 a : to space (as lines of text) so that the lines come out even at the margin b : to make even by justifying
intransitive verb 1 a : to show a sufficient lawful reason for an act done b : to qualify as bail or surety 2 : to justify lines of text
The Lawyer sought to justify himself , but we who are in a relationship with God Through Jesus are justified by Faith. We have peace with God through Jesus. Jesus made peace between God and us, by the blood of His cross. The words justified, justification and justify are concentrated in 2 letters of Paul..
Luke 18:9-14 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Look at the two men praying. Again, this is not one believer and one non-believer praying to God. These are two believers in God. One is religious, and the other is aware of his need for salvation that comes from God. One will walk out of the temple with his religion and self-justification, the other will go out justified by his faith in the God who can and will forgive the person coming for relationship with Him.
“If anyone has reason for Confidence in the Flesh, I have more.” Paul stated what he could have justified himself, count himself worthy of salvation by his list of religious credentials. Everything Paul stated was religious in nature. It gave him good standing among the religious elite. But Paul called all of his religious accomplishments refuse, garbage. “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of KNOWING Christ Jesus my Lord. My religious credentials are junk, my relationship with Jesus is priceless. Let’s apply this now. Our devotion or commitment to the Forever Family to the Church of Bible Understanding, to Stewart, my standing in those groups are as garbage to me, because they were my religion and not my relationship with my Lord. I am not saying Jesus did not save you and put His Spirit inside you. I am not saying that you did not have a relationship with Jesus while in COBU. I am saying that we allowed Stewart to take God’s place in the relationship and we became religious. Had we continued on our relationship with Jesus we would not have allowed Stewart to continue to teach and lead, if not at the beginning, certainly after the Grace Meeting. I will write about Stewart Traill and idolatry soon. Lord Willing.______________________________
Our Cult was our Religion
Some current ex-members have the Stewart Traill spirit of “The One True Interpretation” in the form of a teaching of one passage of scripture, or worse, a system of false teachings based on understanding that is not from the Father. They insist that all must agree with them about its specific application and their “We’re the Only ones following the Truth” spirit only acknowledges other Christian who bows the knee to the god they value more than the True God. Trying to convince a religious Christian who was in a legalistic cult, that one has a abiding relationship with God, is nearly impossible. These brothers behave like they don’t even recognize the Spirit of God. Am I asking them to believe me, to believe my religion? No! I show by the scripture and by my testimony that God has indeed restored me to a Relationship with Him. And what is my proof? Well, to these brothers I need Lambs out the backdoor, I need house bible Studies, I need to give weekly reports on the numbers., or I need to demonstrate the convoluted understanding that some have deceived themselves with in order to be accepted into their religion. Religion is the opposite of Relationship. Religion is the opposite of Love. Try this:
Religion is impatient and unkind. Religion is jealous and boastful. It is arrogant and rude. Religion insists on its own way. It is irritable and resentful. It does not rejoice in the right, but rejoices in the wrong. Religion does not bear up at all, believes nothing, hopes for nothing, endures nothing. Religion ends
But the Steadfast Love of the Lord never ceases. If we abide in Him, we will abide in His love, believing in Him, Trusting in Him, having a relationship with Him which means eternal life with Him. “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for that which endure to eternal life.” Love never Ends. Relationship never ends. The sheep and the goats will be divided between the religious and those who loved our Lord by loving the least of these. Notice that both the sheep and the goats were judged By Our Lord with the same requirements. Both were asked to love as He loves. The unsaved would not be judged this way. They rejected God and did not receive the power to love. The sheep and the goats are judged by their love for others and here Relationship, based on love, has done the work and is accepted, Religion cries, "But we did works" and our Lord does not know them.
Those in the FF and Cobu worked for God. The estimate of 40, 000 saved in the first 5 or 6 years of the FF has been offered, recently. There are brothers who still, to this day, cling to the tally sheet as evidence that God was using Stewart and the FF for His glory. If numbers were the only indicator then I would say the brothers have a case. Of course, history is filled with great movements with huge numbers of members. So numbers don’t always mean it’s of God. A brother mailed me a recording of the First Big Meeting, September of 1973. Two Hundred attended the happy gathering. I transcribed the 60-minute CD. It was very telling: Stewart’s demeanor, what excited him, what made him “happy,” what kind of people he used to mock back in 1973. When I post the recording and the transcript on the web page, I will wait a week before commenting on my perceptions of it. What I find remarkable right now is the devotion some of the current ex-members have for the Forever Family. One might even call it a religious devotion. By the way, side-note, is too much devotion to something so that it has more power in your life than God called idolatry?
The Father who sees in secret, Lord, When did we see thee..? The Pharisees, to be seen by men.
I take note that when Jesus taught us how to live for Him and love others, He compared what we should do to what the Pharisees did. Our relationship with Our Father, who sees in secret, is much different that the open demonstrating of religious works. The widow who put in the 2 coins, we would have never known Her heart and Her story if Jesus hadn't told us. By appearances, the Religious were out-tithing her. But the Father who sees in secret, who knows the heart, loves her. She has a relationship with the Father.
I have been wondering about the sheep at the Judgment, when they said, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee?" Could it be that in a loving relationship with the Father, we are then led to love others and walking in the works God has for us, and we won't even know that we are loving others and loving God? Would our left hand not know what our right hand is doing? IS this some kind of you are so loving others that your "self " is not the focus at all. Would this be our being crucified with Christ and it would no longer we who are living but Christ in us, loving others and our oneness with the Father through Jesus, our abiding in His love, that our love to others is powerful and existing, but invisible, only visible to Our Father who sees in secret, who Himself is invisible. "Greater love has know man than this, I die everyday, Our real love comes from our cleansed heart which only the Father sees in secret. Religion needs to see it so it can do it and get credit for it. Religion does not act in faith. It relies on works and it will bet its eternal life on works to save it. We are called to Love, in Love, by God, who is Love. IF we are not in Him, first and only, then our works will mean nothing.
I exhort you to go to the Father in prayer, cry out to Him, he will pull you out of religion and back into a relationship with Him. He will supply your every need. He will equip you, He will uphold you. He keeps his promises. Every word of God proves true. Read 1st John again. Look at what matters and what does not. God does love you and He is the Father of the prodigal son, He will run to meet you, to restore you, to bring you back into the relationship He started with you, when you made the good confession. Take confidence in what HE has done, in His strength.
If what I wrote is what you already knew, then draw near to God with this, as a reminder. If God has shown you that you need to repent, then run to Him, He will run to you. If I have erred in my writing, reject what is evil, hold fast to what is good. These writings are meant to point you to God. Go to Him. Any teacher or servant of God points to Him. Anything else is religion and idolatry.
Examine yourself, pray to your Father and draw near to Him. If you are going through the motions don't stop praying until your heart finds HIM again. When you do, your life with your Heavenly Father will be THE RELATIONSHIP He intended when you first believed. Your understanding of your present circumstances will dramatically change. Your ears will be able to Hear His Voice again in the Spirit and you will not allow any man or group to stop you from being with your Father.
Read the following scriptures, think of your relationship with God. Are you abiding in Him, when you pray, do you have this intimacy with God our Father? By the Spirit of God in you, you should be abiding in Him, You are in Him, He is in you, we are one with Him. If you do not have this, then you are in a religion and your actions in this religion are worth nothing. Read the following and recognize the Father's love and your relationship with Him.
Read John 13-17, Read 1st John 1-5 Recognize the relationship God the Father has called us to. 1st John ends this way.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
I now know why John ended this letter this way. Idols are the worst manifestation of religion. The sin of idolatry, the very heart and opposite of worshipping God. Lord Willing I will write the next piece exposing our idolatry concerning Stewart Traill and His cult.
Copyright Statement: The Revised Standard Version The Bible text designated RSV is from The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version. Copyright 1946, 1952, 1959, 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved. Used by permission.