Jesus warned about the leaven of the Pharisees. "Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadduccees." Matt. 16:12 Compare Matt. 15:1-9.
What if Simon the Pharisee had been the one to meet the Eunuch on the road??? Would he have said something like this?
The Ethiopian said: "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Acts 8:36 "And Simon said, 'First, our scribes have searched the Law and found 613 laws. You must be taught these and be able to speak to each of these laws. Further, our scribes have found a hundred or more new laws from the silence of God - from the things He did not say. You must learn these also. And then we have another problem. You need to be circumcised, and that is impossible since you are a eunuch. So I see no hope at all for you.'"
NOT!!! The truth is: upon the Ethiopian's confession of faith in Christ -"I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" - Philip immediately baptized him into Christ! Which included the Holy Spirit of the Living God as a gift (Titus 3:5-6). And the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing! When he got back home he joyfully spread the Good News Gospel that God had acted in Christ to put the world right with Himself! Old barriers and walls have been torn down. It no longer mattered that he was a Gentile, or that he had been surgically neutered. Whosoever will may come and be saved eternally!
Damnable heresies come in different forms. Jesus said of the Pharisees: "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." John 5:40 They were intense Bible students. They carefully read & studied each word, researched the fine print, and read between the lines. But their minds were already made up against Jesus! They were “agents of change” while they convinced themselves they were preserving The Old Ways. Thus they rejected Jesus, and crucified Him.
Jesus speaks to the Pharisees
You have your heads in the Bible always.
You studied for degrees in the Sacred Books.
And PhDs in books about the Sacred Books.
And you're convinced this will get you into Heaven.
But you miss The Point: IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!
The Holy Scriptures are jam-packed with
huge stomping clues about ME!
But you can't find it in your heart to admit it.
Because then you would have to ask ME
for the eternal life you want so much.
Believe ME and live eternally!
[adapted from Rob Lacey]
[compare 1 John 5:9-13]
Counterfeits. “God has told us in His precious Word that we should know a tree by its fruit. Wherever we find the real, we find the counterfeit also. But praise God for the real. We find in the time of Peter, when men and women were receiving the power of the Holy Ghost, the counterfeit appeared in Ananias and Sapphira. But God’s power was mightier than all the forces of hell, so their sin found them out. Be careful, dear loved ones for your sin will surely find you out. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” William J. Seymour, 1906
Example of a search for reality:
Marvin is a guy in the house church and John is one of the main two characters.
After a few moments Marvin let out a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know, John. I always thought the institution I left wasn’t working because it had the wrong principles. I thought we were getting the right ones in place so we could finally experience real church life.” Murmurs of agreement buzzed around the table.
“But you don’t see it that way?”
“No, I don’t. If it helps, I think you’re finding better principles–ones that reflect more accurately the life of the early believers. But keep in mind that following principles didn’t produce their life together. We can observe what happened as they followed Jesus, but copying that won’t produce the same reality.
“Jesus didn’t leave us with a system; he left us with His Spirit–a guide instead of a map. Principles alone will not satisfy your hunger. That’s why systems always promise a future revival that never comes. They cannot produce community because they are designed to keep people apart.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because they keep the focus on services or rituals, principles turn most people into spectators. By holding up standards and motivating people to conform to them they only encourage people to pretend to be what they are not, or to act like they know more than they really do. Questions and doubts are discouraged and people can’t deal with the things they are hiding. Thus they only let people see the shadow they want them to see, not who they really are. Feeling isolated, they only become more focused on their own needs and what others aren’t doing to meet them. They fight over control of the institution, however large or small, so that they can make others do what they think is best. It is a story that has been repeated for a couple of thousand years.”
Following a pattern or copying whether it is 2000 years ago that you copy or if it is the group whose conference you went to just doesn’t produce the same reality. I love that line about He gave His Spirit instead of a map. And I know the part about people pretending is so true. So whether you are in a big church, little church, house church, fluid church, coffeehouse church or whatever, Here’s to everyone, following the Spirit’s leading and to seeking God’s guidance on every decision.
Imitaion or Real?
Be careful to turn away from the counterfeit and run to the Living God. As one has said: “We must recover holiness without legalism, boldness without presumption, and power without pride. When the church does this she will gain the attention of both the heavens and the earth, because her God will be with her in His manifest presence.”
Christian love and spiritual power are intended to be profoundly linked; when they are not, something less than the fullness of the gospel is present. Strengthened now, in faith, hope, love, and spiritual power, let us look again at the situation in which we and the whole Church are living.
Ralph Martin wrote in 1994: “Seventeen hundred years of Christendom are falling into ruins around us. An age is coming to an end, not just the end of a remarkable century but the end of seventeen hundred years of Christendom. The greatest apostasy since the birth of the Church is clearly far advanced all around us.” Yet at the same time we can see that Africa and
have emerged as a new center of Christendom. India
God has made all mankind with an instinct for truth, a sense of right and wrong, and most of all a hunger for God Himself. Eventually, truth will win out. Perhaps after great suffering and great waiting, but truth will win out!!!
God is judging His church. Judgment begins at the house of God. 1 Peter 4:17. Our choice: Throw up our hands in despair? Or Lift up our hands in prayer, praise, joy, hope! Note 1 Timothy 2:8. We are privileged to live in a time that while exceedingly difficult, is also a time where we have seen and will see yet more of the great interventions of God. But one thing is certain, God is not worried about the situation. He is not anxious. He is not afraid. He is in control and will see to it that all things work out to the good of those who love Him. The nations may rage. Mankind may scheme. God laughs. Compare Psalm 2:1-6.