By Steve Van Nattan
Introduction, There is a great fuss made over the "Regulative Principle" in Reformed circles when structuring worship. Within the various Reformed groups there is even disagreement as to what Regulative means. The Lutherans, Anglicans, and Catholics say that Regulative Worship means that, anything the Bible directly calls for in worship must be included today.
They then claim that other things can be added if the Bible nowhere forbids it. This has taken us, in the last twenty years, to the praise and worship circus in contemporary Christian "worship."
The Presbyterians, with Calvin's imprimatur, as well as (curiously) the Anabaptists of long ago, said that whatever the Bible calls for in worship MUST be included, and NOTHING can be added which is not found in the Word of God.
Good work, ye followers of John Knox and John Calvin.
But, you all have some unfinished business with God himself-- you need to apply the Regulative Principle to ALL your church affairs. This page deals with things YOU and the Baptists and Charismatics have added which are NOT in the Word of God. Nor were they in the early church of the Apostolic era as shown in the New Testament.
Do you have the zeal to finish the Reformation?
First, "church membership" is nowhere in the Bible as practiced by Christendom today. All church groups will twist some obscure text to claim they have the authority to make lists of loyal saints. Loyal to whom? Certainly not Jesus Christ. The saint is born again and kept for eternity by Jesus Christ, so Christ does not crave some added collection of names in a local church file cabinet.
Second, the "first mention" principle tells us what church membership really is. Church membership, as in "join," or bow to the sacral authority, or as in come to the shrine, was introduced by the priests of Constantine. After he converted, he thought the Donatists, the Bible believing saints of about 300 AD, would be only too pleased to now bow to the higher power. They had refused to offer incense to the gods and to Caesar before the conversion of Constantine. But, he thought they could easily bow, and join the membership rolls, now that the human power over the Holy Roman Empire was allegedly Christian.The Donatists refused to "join," and again they were killed and driven across the sea to North Africa where they hid from the membership drive of 300 AD.
Thus, by the law of "first mention," the Bible does NOT introduce local church membership lists, and never has. Membership lists are the work of the Whore, the Roman Catholic Church, and in this regard, every local church that calls the saints to the altar (a Roman Catholic geographical locus primerus) to "join the church" is upholding the traditions of Rome. How can a Bible believer join the church when he IS the Church? Blasphemy, whether in 300 AD or now. In another way, how can a bull join bulldom officially, and have his name on a list of genuinely approved bulls, when he was born a bull?
We must note that the Reformers did indeed reform many heretical teachings of the Roman Whore. But, in spite of Luther's cry for, "Sola Scripture," the Reformers kept man-defined liturgical worship, extra biblical confessions of faith, doctrinal statements, covenants, and, most damnably, membership rolls.
This is why Reformed churches NEVER get everything right. In order to defend many of these moldy traditions they kept from old mother Whore, they must violate the distinctions between the old and new covenants, and they must abandon literal biblical eschatology. These two doctrines are your tools to trash the traditions of man in the Lord's Church about 90% of the time.
Third, church membership, as practiced by the Vatican, and all the way up to the most narrow Fundamental Baptist KJV only local church, is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the ONLY one who gives the believer assurance that he is in the Body of Christ.
Romans 8:16 (KJV) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Corinthians 1:21 (KJV) Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath
anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
1:13 (KJV) [Speaking
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that
holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Church membership lists are a great comfort and assurance to both sheep and goats. They make goats believe they are born again while, in fact, they are on their way to hell. More on this later.
The assurance of being a "church member" is a device of Satan to distract the saints from their God-given assurance. If that is what you want to do, just keep enlisting members and signing covenants. You will end up with a mixed multitude.
2 Peter 2:22 (KJV) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire
The average church member will return to his life of sin after conversion, baptism, and "joining" the local church. He has only to make sure he is never caught by the domini or the church leaders in his sin. He can ignore the Holy Ghost completely.
Hundreds of Baptist preachers and deacons will read what I have just written, a few will even agree, but they will basically say, "We do not trust you, Jesus-- we will have our list, we will boast of our numbers, and we don't believe you know how to keep them in your number. We will not believe a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone is enough to let sheep into OUR fold."
Matthew 15:6 (KJV) And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Traditions, taken from the law, and projected beyond the law, make the law obsolete and of none effect.
Thus, your local church membership role makes the biblical teaching of the members being part of the Body of Christ (all born again saints world wide) "of none effect." Your membership roll makes the believer's name entry in the Lamb's book of Life secondary to the sho nuff name in your local church records. Being on a man made roll does not cancel the entry in the Lamb's Book of Life, but, to the person on the man mad roll, Christ's book becomes meaningless-- after all, "look at my certificate on the wall there. I no longer have to, BY FAITH ALONE, believe my name is in Christ's book."
Your root problem is this-- you do not believe people when they confess faith in Jesus Christ.
Matthew 12:37 (KJV) For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
By Michael Bunker
Michael Bunker must not be held accountable for things on this page which I wrote,
and I may not agree with Michael in every detail in the following article.
I do believe Michael has made the issue of church membership very clear.
What ultimately matters is that the Word of God prevails.
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD:
though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
�Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.� 1 Corinthians 6:15-17.
Joining ourselves to something is very serious business. God has declared it so. To make ourselves �members� of something is to partake in the rewards or punishments of that thing. Consider that Jesus prophesied to the Pharisees that since they were �gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ� (Acts 4:26), that they would CORPORATELY be held responsible for every murder of all of God�s prophets and wise men!
�Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.� Matthew 23:34-3.
Notice that Jesus said that because they had joined together in league against Him, ALL the righteous blood ever shed upon the earth (from Abel to Zacharias � A to Z) would come upon them. They would specifically be punished, as co-workers and co-rebels, along with ALL of those who had ever come against God or His true servants.
This concept really aggravates anyone with an Arminian mindset. They chafe at the fact that God would hold people responsible for acts in which they had not actively participated. Note that these Pharisees were very Religious men, joined together with the Scribes and other religious sects as the �members� of institutional Judaism of the day. They were the CHURCH on the earth at the time of Christ. They insisted (verse 30) that had they been alive in the days of their fathers, they �would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets�. But in doing so, they were confessing that they were their father�s sons.
Religious men HATE God�s justice. They hate Righteous judgment. So they, through their teachings and actions, accuse God of unrighteousness through the denial of His sovereignty. They idolize and worship their supposed �free will�, while denying that they are the creations of an all-powerful Sovereign God, and as such are banned from bringing a railing accusation against that Creator, by squealing �why have you made me such�. And in doing so, they prove to us they are the children of their fathers. They say that a God who would hold men guilty of crimes committed before they were born must be a sadistic and capricious God - denying, in fact, that the sins of Adam have come upon every child of Adam. Once again, they join themselves in religious league as members of the institutional CHURCH on the earth.
Paul told the Corinthians plainly that they were either:
a) The members of Jesus Christ, or
b) The members of a Harlot.
Before you go screaming that Paul was teaching against sexual immorality, let us find out what the Bible labels as Harlotry.
In the Book of Revelation, John tells us that that there has appeared on this earth a woman named MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT. This woman sits on seven mountains (verse 9), and also sits upon many waters (verse 1). She has committed fornication with the Kings of the earth (verse 2), and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication (verse 2).
Note that it was the universal opinion of the Reformers, and of anyone else who honestly examines these scriptures, that the city that sits on seven hills is ROME, and the woman who sits there is the CATHOLIC CHURCH. Also note that the Bible calls this woman the MOTHER OF HARLOTS (verse 5), indicating that her offspring are HARLOTS.
Many will pause here and begin to argue that their particular denomination was never a part of the Catholic Church, and so technically can not be termed her offspring. I know that the Baptists and the Seventh Day Adventists make this claim. But notice what Jesus said to the Pharisees, your denial of your parent does not necessarily mean that you are not her offspring. We know them by their fruit. Since almost 100% of organized Christianity has derived its structure and organization from the Catholic Church, we may safely say that a Harlot can be discerned by comparison with her mother. The Protestant churches today have organized themselves along a hierarchical structure that begins at the top with Pastors (popes, cardinals, etc.) and flow downwards towards the laity. The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes can be clearly seen in the structure of organized Protestantism today.
NICO = conqueror of, or tyranny over
LAITANE = the laity
You might also note that Jesus declares that he HATES Nicolaitanism. Nicolaitanism is treated by Christ in the same manner as Phariseeism.
So let us get our bearings.
The Bible uses the term Harlot almost universally to mean spiritual harlotry. Note that in the early proverbs (1-8), there is a constant contrasting of two different types of woman. Seeking one woman (wisdom and understanding) is encouraged, while seeking the other woman (a harlot) is discouraged. Specifically in Proverbs chapter 7, a parable is unfolded to describe EXACTLY who is a harlot.
In Mark 13:34 Jesus declares that HE is a man taking a far journey. He tells us that He left His house, and that He will return on a day appointed.
In Proverbs chapter 7, a young man, devoid of understanding is going his way to visit a harlot. Note that this is happening �in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night�. The Hebrew that is translated �in the evening�, along with the other words means: IN THE EVENING OF DAYS. This is a prophecy of the end times.
Also note that a woman comes to meet him. She has been lying in wait. She has prepared a speech that will attract him to her. And PLEASE notice that there is a Harlot ON EVERY STREET CORNER! (verse 12)
She tells the ignorant young man to come into her. She says, �let us take our fill of loves until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the Goodman is not at home, he is gone on a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.�
Oh please, dear reader, listen to me. It is Jesus that has gone on a long journey! It is Jesus that will return on the day appointed! Please take care to understand that in the evening of days, right before He returns, there will be a Harlot on every street corner enticing those who have no understanding to come in. She only desires that the ignorant man will stay until morning. She is a Harlot.
Paul clearly says that we are NOT to join ourselves to a Harlot. We become a partaker in the deeds of anything we join ourselves to. Church membership is not mentioned ONE TIME in all of scripture. We are not authorized to �join� a church, a denomination, or a cult. We are not to lend ourselves to be �members� of a Harlot!
Let�s examine what the Bible says about �membership�.
First, we see that we (all those who are truly born-again, redeemed) are to be �members� of Christ. In Romans, Paul says that we are servants to whomever we yield our �members�. Paul consistently compares us to the BODY, by calling us the Body of Christ. As a Body, we are not to yield our members to sin and unrighteousness, just as the Body of Christ should not yield its �members� to harlotry. We are either �members� of the Body of Christ, or we are �members� of another entity (the Church) which is foreign to Christ and separated from Him. We are told that �we, being many, are one body, and all members one of another. (Chapter 12, verse 5)�
I specifically adjure you to read what Paul says to us in 1 Corinthians the 12th chapter. He says that we (those who are truly in Christ), like a Body, are one. We are not all the same body parts, but we are all one body. God Himself has set every one of us in the Body as it has pleased Him (verse 18), while specifically ordering us not to join our �members� to anything other than Him. Now, there are many members (verse 20), but ONE true Body. And we should ALWAYS realize that there should never be a SCHISM (separation, split, delineation or gap) in the Body (verse 25).
Just so we don�t miss it, Paul lays it down clearly in verse 27, �Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.�
So don�t tell me that when this same writer (PAUL) says in this same book (1st Corinthians) that we are not to join our MEMBERS to a Harlot, that he is not specifically banning membership in anything but the Body of Christ. Note that he says in 1 Cor 6:15-17 that you are EITHER a member of Christ, or you are the member of a Harlot.
So we are left with the feeble argument that official Church membership denotes membership in the Body of Christ. That is an argument that is almost too stupid to answer, but we will address it.
Just as membership in a particular sect at the time of Christ did not signify relationship with God, but on the contrary it emphasized the separation FROM God � we can say that membership in the Pharisaical denominations and churches of today is not a sign of Body membership, but rather denotes the opposite. I say this not to condemn those true believers who have yet to come out of institutional religion, but to exhort them to do so immediately. Christ did not choose to save sect members IN their particular sects; rather he called them OUT from them. Paul is not notable to us because he remained a Pharisee, rather we read and heed him because he was brave enough to come OUT from that most heinous of sects.
Since �church� membership is not only NOT authorized in scripture, but it is specifically banned � we can see that the membership �letter� does not tend towards the spiritual freedom preached by Christ and the apostles, but tends towards bondage to sectarian interests and Nicolaitanism in all its forms. Paul asks us then to separate ourselves from that unrighteousness, �putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members ONE of ANOTHER.(Ephesians 4:25)� We cannot continue to abide sectarian religion masquerading as Christianity, because in doing so we hate our own flesh, and we deny that �we are members of His body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:30).�
Ignorant men will demand church membership, particularly so that church discipline can be administered. But in declaring that discipline can only be administered to members who have joined themselves to a Harlot � the ignorant leader has declared that he is the master of a Harlot, a pimp in spiritual terms.
If a formal letter of �membership� is required in order for the Body to correct itself, where is the spiritual parallel in our own bodies? The apostles used the Body as a shadow of the Body of Christ specifically so that we would draw conclusions in relation to our own bodies. Does my foot need a letter in order to be joined to my leg? Does my head require a signed letter from my hand in order to be fed?
Any group who requires Church membership in order that they might �legally� engage in Church discipline is clearly too ignorant and immature to be disciplining anyone. The membership letter in this way has become a tool of bondage and abuse and NOT a tool of fellowship in the election mystery.
When we become �members� of the True Body of Jesus Christ, we break all allegiances with the traditions and organizations of men. Our membership is a spiritual mystery in which the unredeemed and unregenerate cannot partake. Note that even the most strident supporters of �Church membership� will admit that they have �members� who are not truly Christians. In this admission, they must also admit that they are co-members with unrighteousness, and partakers of all that is unholy. They have joined themselves in league with the children of darkness, and as Christ prophesied, they will be held responsible for all the works of darkness.
Repentance is a work of God, and it is a gift provided by a Sovereign God to His elect. I pray that those who have participated in this evil will understand that it is the goodness of God that leads us to real repentance. Thank Him for His goodness, and seek His face for future guidance.
For those who harden their hearts against the Truth and who seek to rationalize unholy behavior, I leave you with the direct exhortation of Jesus Christ regarding Nicolaitanism: �Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.�
�Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.�
(used by permission)
Part Three: COMMENTS:
Steve Van Nattan
Editor of Blessed Quietness Journal
One of the hallmarks of the average Fundamental Baptist, Pentecostal, and other preachers is that they regularly question the saints' salvation in altar calls. "I don't know if you are saved, I only know that I am saved." After saying this, he then gives a knock down, drag out, altar call. In the altar call he makes it very clear that those who never come to the front for some reason are highly suspect.
After reading Michael Bunker's article above, I was able to pull some thoughts together from my experiences in Fundamental Baptist and Reformed churches, as well as my years on the missionfield.
Thus, why question the saints' salvation? Answer: Evolution is true after all, and here is how it works:
1. The preacher made them church paper members, and they were added to the "roll." He either accepted some other preacher's church letter, or this preacher approved of them based upon what he thought were fruit or evidences of true salvation. He may have a very high standard for choosing folks to make into members, but ultimately this preacher approved them and added them to the local church. This is not called for in the New Testament. Christ added to his church such as should be saved, and this preacher has taken away from Christ a distinct aspect of his sovereignty.
2. Now, after some time, this preacher has second thoughts. The paper member he added to the local church is not living right. Or, the member may not be doing anything evil, he is just not doing anything at all. He is happy, agreeable, and gives pretty good. He just shows no fruit unto righteousness. Now, though he would deny it, the preacher is wondering if he has signed up a fake. Michael Bunker, in the above article, shows that the member is technically classified in the Word of God as a member of the Whore Church, the Weed Prostitute (my name for it).
3. So the preacher panics and starts pounding them at the altar call, and in sermons, with the possibility that they are not born again after all. He does not have the office of Christ, who knows who is born again, so the poor preacher has to bash the paper member until he "comes forward" to get saved again, or until the paper member leaves the church.
Actually, the Catholic Church has a much better plan. Just get them in as members, and then, if they are a fake Christian, let their family pray them out of Purgatory after they die. But, the Fundamental Baptist preacher has no acre in Purgatory. He has to get the job done now, or he may find at the Great White Throne that half his alleged "church members" were damned to hell.
In such a church, the membership status of a member qualifies them to lead, vote on issues of church life, and generally come to the center of the work of Christ. How is this different from the pompous lost souls in the Roman Whore who lead and do the work of the alleged church?
If you want to deal with this, there are many side issues that will come to light:
1. You will have to start teaching the saints that they are saints indeed, and you will have to give THEM, not you, the role of examining themselves.
2. You will have to unregister your church with Caesar, for Caesar will not allow you to have a corporation without members, voting, business meetings, and corporate definitions in writing as to your activities.
3. You will have to decide, based on the Word of God alone, who will participate in leadership and gift based activity, and you will have to be content with letting Jesus Christ keep track of who is a real member of his Body and who is not.
Frightening, is it not?
This is because you are too proud to trust the Lord Jesus to add to, and preserve, his Church. You are terrified of being lead of the Holy Ghost without written definitions and roll calls and options for church house litigation.
Psalms 4:5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
You just do not trust Jesus Christ to do much more than to die and raise from death for men, do you? How could Jesus save them and then keep track of the converts without your help and your membership roll? How could the Holy Ghost use the teaching of the Word alone to convict and correct and call men to salvation? Maybe this all says something about your lack of diligence in Bible study, right? You are there for one purpose alone-- feed sheep. God knows very well which ones are sheep and which are goats, and nowhere in the Word of God does he hold you accountable for keeping the roll. Relax, and feed sheep. I dare you...... it is really quite exciting my friend.
John 21:17 (KJV) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Not a word about roll call and record keeping..... funny about that. It seems so essential to us humans.
Philippians 4:3 (KJV) And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
The church at Philippi had no roll book in the church office-- How frightening-- How did they know who was a "member?" Where is this book of life it is not in the file cabinet on earth?
Revelation 21 tells us it is in the future holy city which descends out of heaven, ending thus:
Revelation 21:27 (KJV) And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Personally, I have vowed before God to never again allow ANY man to enter my name in a book on earth to distract me from my zeal and joy of being in the Lamb's Book. That does not make me special at all-- it makes me right. If you are in two books, which one is final? Are you SURE? Maybe you are only in a man made book, and you need that assurance to give you security as you live a false profession before men.
In Reformed churches, the intimidation factor is not as open.
The Christian may be accepted graciously, but he is held at a distance from total involvement because he has not asked to be a member, and he has not gone through catechism and signed the local church covenant. Once he has passed muster and is a full member, the local church process of membership has produced the same horrors for the Reformed leaders as it does for Baptists. There are tares who slipped in by making a good show and putting an X in all the right boxes.
What is the foundation for the membership maze through which a Bible believer must go to become a real "member" of the local church?
1. It is based on democracy and a society built on Robert's Rules of Order and litigation. It is assumed that you cannot rebuke and bring church discipline to anyone attending unless they are a fully approved and oath bound member and on the roll. This is nonsense of course. There is no hesitance on Paul's of John's part to instruct the saints in discipling unruly people in their assemblies, yet there was NO membership roll in any local church in the Apostolic era. Virtually the ONLY list in the New Testament was of widows who were "widows indeed." (I Timothy 5)
2. Membership acceptance follows a grilling, and possibly a public confession of Christ, in a more sound local church, and possibly a letter is sought from a former church of the candidate for membership. Many churches skip the letter these days. In fact, the church letter is the ONLY thing Paul used to determine who the local church should welcome in. In his letters (Epistles) he told churches to receive certain believers and reject others. We might allow this exception to brother Bunker's teaching above.
The visitor is welcomed and fawned over at first. Later, he is made more welcome, and finally, he may be approached by the pastor or an elder and asked if he would consider becoming a "member." Nine times out ten no one ever asks him to give a confession of his faith in Jesus Christ until he is actually sitting in a church business meeting for his membership interrogation.
ANYONE who claims to be even faintly familiar with Christianity, and who has the skill to present himself as a Christian, should be asked in love, but bluntly, to confess his faith about the second Sunday he comes to the assembly. If he cannot give a clear biblical confession of faith, he should be dealt with at once to get a verdict for or against faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He may be a wolf. This is why the Church in America and most of the "Christian" world is full of tares and very little wheat.
3. It is believed, in about 80% of Christendom, that lawful tithing is taught in the New Testament. It is not. But, various devious cross references and appeals to logic are used to establish the false law of tithing for the New Testament local church "member." I say "member" because, again, litigation is needed to force the members to give. The threat of being dropped from the roll, and being excommunicated, will cause the average church member to fall in line and tithe faithfully.
In many Baptist and Reformed churches it has been the custom for the pastor or a leader to demand to know how much income each member receives per year so that their giving can be tracked. The member who opts to give cash and forego the tax deduction receipt, so that he may get his reward from God alone (Matthew 6), is confronted, and may even be excommunicated for not submitting to the giving "protocols of the learned elders" of the local church.
Local church membership, in many churches, is driven by the lust for cash flow. The pastor has dreams of building a great new monster building, filling it, and graduating to a bigger church in California. The deacons have dreams of their own. They all cost money. What shall we do? Answer: Shear the sheep closer and closer by bashing them with tithing teaching and "Faith Promise" giving. But, you just cannot get as much out of sheep who are only under the Great Shepherd's sole authority as you can from sheep who are under human rulers who can get right in their faces and threaten them.
4. Anglo Saxons worldwide crave sameness, and the churches are no exception. Under color of seeking doctrinal purity, the creed, covenant, doctrinal statement, and catechism form a structure to filter out anyone who is not the same as we are.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
This is not enough for these sorts. They want a LOT more things to be matching in new members.
What is the result?
Every saint who joins a local church will one day come to interpret a Bible text differently from the pastor or another member. If it is a minor matter, such as some future event in eschatology (prophecy), it should not be a reason to break fellowship between the saint and others in the assembly as long as he is not contentious. But, if it is an item included in the doctrinal statement or covenant to which he put his name, then he can be defined, by local church litigation, as a violator. He is then confronted and required to recant, or he is excommunicated. The thing may be as small a matter as what kind of tie to wear to church, whether his wife wears jeans to weed the garden, or that he likes Swiss chocolate with rum soaked raisins. If he violates the creed, he is a heretic, no matter how small a matter it is.
The result is a Maoist variety of forced sameness. Anyone who has second thoughts about some Bible text interpretation, or some "standard" of conduct, must keep it to himself. He must either hide it, or he must simply comply, not to the glory of Christ, but to keep from standing out and being marked as a trouble maker.
Who is offended the worst in all of this man made add-on of local church membership?
Answer: The Holy Ghost.
Here is what Christ said, John 14:25 (KJV) These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Suppose a member is studying his Bible, and he senses an interpretation of a text which seems to compare with the rest of the Bible. But then, he realizes that what he is thinking may contradict the creed, covenant, or doctrinal statement which he signed onto when he "joined the church."
He has two choices-- Either speak to a mature leader in the church and risk being tagged as a violator, or keep his own private interpretation to himself. He cannot speak of it to anyone unless they are outside the local church, and he may even be fearful to speak of it to his family. Such things have a way of getting back to the "church board." Homes have actually been destroyed over violations of the local church creed, doctrinal statement, or covenant. In the past, wars were even fought over such violations of the creed.
Let me illustrate:
In western Michigan live hundreds of thousands of Dutch Reformed Christians. I have known many and been in their homes tuning pianos while I was a pastor. I found a number of Reformed Christians who were not only zealous for the Lord, but they were eagerly reading and studying their Bibles as to the doctrine of future things (eschatology). They would get all excited and want to talk to me about what they were learning.
At first, I was puzzled why they wanted to talk to me so eagerly. As time went on-- when I tuned pianos in Reformed churches, I would mention the coming of the Lord Jesus for his Church, or the signs of the End Times, or the Laodicean nature of the Church today to Reformed pastors. Friend, these poor idiots would suddenly go dumb as snot. They had high toned degrees from Calvin Seminary, or other monuments of education, and they could wax eloquent on the sovereignty of God for hours, but they were deaf mutes on the doctrine of future things. This, I have learned, is because, since the days of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, the Reformed movement has not taken a stand on eschatology of any variety. And, to this day they have NO zealous feeling for the future. It will just be a sort of happy ending with Christ taking his Church to heaven by and by.
So, when a Reformed church member started reading a prophecy book in the bathroom (this is a true story), and when they got excited about the Middle East, the return of the Jews, and other events that point to a soon return of Christ for his Church, these poor people (two medical doctors with bright minds) had to keep it a deep dark secret and look for non-Reformed Christians to fellowship with about prophecy.
I came along, a Baptist type Bible church pastor, and they felt safe talking to me about their discoveries from studying the Word of God.
It was just not safe to speak about our "blessed hope" of the future with other Reformed Christians.
BLASPHEMY! ............. GODSLASTERLIJK!
Perhaps the most traumatic experience is to be had by entering the Reformed environment.
When one enters a Fundamental or Pentecostal local church, one is prepared for the fact that there will be some picky little "standards" which one will have to deal with. This is often not so with Reformed local churches. There may, in fact, be a very tolerant and patient spirit in all things NOT included in the 500 year old creed or the church covenant. Smoking cigars (death in a Fundamental church) may even be sponsored by the budget, and cigars set on each table for the men to smoke after church dinners while the ladies (who never must be caught smoking) wash the dishes. Tipping the glass, if in moderation, will be happily tolerated.
The spirit, especially in Dutch Reformed churches, is very pleasant and gracious. The fellowship is sincere. The spirit of loyalty to one another is contagious and comforting. Men are manly and industrious. The newby who is truly born again will be drawn to this fellowship in joy.
But, once you sign the covenant, and once you go through the interrogations and pass muster, you are then a full member. You are accepted in the elect-- you are a member. You may now participate in the process of democracy, smoke the Dutch Masters with the masters themselves, and you may one day work your way up the order of the peck, onto the consistory or the vestry.
At any moment, from then on, you may be found guilty of violating the creed or covenant. This will result in the big cannons coming out, and the pulpit will become the bunker from which war will be declared on YOU. Gentleness, mercy (one of the most common attributes of God found in the Bible), and sweet concern will all have been locked up safe in a closet so that they dare not compromise the fierceness of the moment of battle.
The only way you will possibly be permitted to remain in the fellowship and on the membership roll will be if you submit to being reduced to a puddle of slime, and stay that way for months. Possibly then, you will be allowed to tip toe into the circle of great men again and take a puff on the sacral cigar.
What is the most terrifying of all, and I have seen this in Fundamental and Reformed churches, is that the member comes to revel in the thrashing. Being bashed with Old Testament proof texts, slammed by quotes from Calvin and the Puritans, and being whipped with high toned theological reasoning, is viewed by the "faithful" as a privilege. This, in my book, is nothing less than church house sadomasochism. When you actually come to CRAVE being bashed around in public, you are sick, sick, sick my friend. You have been brainwashed by men no different than the gurus of Mormonism and the Popes of the Dark Ages. You have been robbed of the blessing of biblical rebuke, which the Lord Jesus gave us in plain language:
Matthew 18:15 (KJV) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
What crass wickedness we have brought on the Lord's Church with creeds, covenants, doctrinal statements, and church house litigation. It is nothing less than blasphemy of Christ, the ONLY head of the Body, the ONLY source of sound doctrine.
Let me make something very clear. There are heresies that are passed off as sound doctrine. There are heresies that are passed off as "small issues that should not divide brethren." That is not what I am talking about.
What we are discussing here is the sameness of fine points, Pharisaical pickiness, and the un-same things which come up because we are NOT all alike, and we do NOT all grow in the Lord in the same ways and the same sequence of life change. Christian maturity and zeal is not a lock step jackboot military event. Some believers think a lot, and that is NOT dangerous. It should actually be an asset to mature church leaders.
If the Word of God were our ONLY document, we would be able to answer EVERY issue that comes up with NO help from an outside source. If we cannot do so, God is a liar:
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Do you believe that or not?
Is it enough that someone who has made a confession of the Lord Jesus with their mouth (Romans 10:9-10), and has shown fruit unto righteousness (Matthew 7:20), is worthy of complete fellowship in your assembly? If you have a question as to the soundness of a visitor, can you simply open the Bible to a text and ask the visitor to explain what it means to him?
If you don't believe the Bible is enough to "throughly" answer all the issues of life in the local church and the "members" lives, then, by all means, write up a law code to amend what you believe is deficient in the Word of God. But, understand this, you are going to hell for it.
Revelation 22:18 (KJV) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Maybe you, pastor, and you, church leaders, are just a pack of wimps. You have not got the guts to stand toe to toe with a visitor and, IN LOVE, confront him with the Word of God and ask him to give a confession of his salvation and faith in Jesus Christ. So, you use your litigation documents and "due process" to bring this person into "membership."
Finally, let me explain to you why the present era of the Church's history can be classified as the Laodicean era. It is because all manner of wolves and vipers, some demon possessed, have learned the language. They have read your creed and your doctrinal statement. And, they have given you the right answers, so you made them "full members" in your local church.
What do you have now?
You have an agent of Satan voting in business meetings, teaching Sunday School, sitting on the board, and possibly even in the pulpit.
Answer: You processed these creeps by YOUR documents and YOUR neat and tidy litigation process, and you are stuck with them. If they do not do something that distinguishes them as wicked, you have to leave these tares amongst the wheat until the Lord returns and does for you what you should have done by using the King James Bible up front.
Repent ! Thou shalt not add !
2 Thessalonians 2:15 (KJV) Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
There is only ONE source of sound tradition for the local church-- the Word of God "once delivered." Your creed and doctrinal statement be damned.
Jude 1:3 (KJV) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
........ Plus Nothing !
I marvel at the nerve of these Baptist, Charismatic, and Reformed preachers who willingly admit that they practice many things not derived from Apostolic teaching, but they refuse to leave them. They come up with reasoning like this-- "If the Word does not forbid it, and the Word has no alternative to our traditions, then it is OK for us to add them." This is human reason-- it is the logic of a Philadelphia lawyer, NOT obedience to the Word's command:
Deuteronomy 12:32 (KJV) What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Jude said the Gospel was "once delivered," and John in Revelation told us, Revelation 22:18 (KJV) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: So, reason is NOT an apologetic for adding traditions of man to the complete revelation. Human reason is the classic apologetic in mongrel Christendom from the Vatican to Salt Lake City to First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana.
Would you be willing to go to hell with the Pharisees for adding traditions of men to the Word of God. These same modern Pharisees, called "bastard sons" in Hebrews 12:8, will thrash anyone who changes the King James Bible. Like the Scribes of Jesus days, they were fanatics in keeping error out of the Word of God in written form, and the Pharisees changed not one word. But, they ADDED AND ADDED AND ADDED to the Word. Please meditate on this paragraph for a moment before rushing to conclude that I am out of line with revealed truth.
Mark 7:13 (KJV) Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Notice please-- Jesus makes it clear that "ye" Pharisees "delivered" up these requirements. God had nothing to do with them and hated them. You can pray over your democratic meetings (which divide the church against Paul's clear teaching), and you can pray over your doctrinal statement, and you can pray over you confession. Indeed, you can examine your confession or creed ad nauseum, to refine it to be in line with the Word of God, BUT, at the end of the day, your finished product is an appendix to the Word of God, and you may go to hell for it according to Revelation 22:18.
Are you happy with that possibility? Or, is God sort of stuck-- he simply MUST make an exception for your confession, creed, and doctrinal statement?
IF your added creed, confession, doctrinal statement, by-laws, catechism, covenant, or commentary is the document to which you resort to keep order, teach, preach, proof text, guide, rebuke, reprove, exhort, instruct, witness, or make any other final decision or declaration, you are damned to hell.
If you finally resort to the King James Bible, after stumbling through a bunch of man made blather, and after apologizing for disagreeing with the lords of Blarney like Calvin and Walvoord, then you are not damned to hell-- you are an idiot. You are wasting the saints' time.
As usual, I say all of the above in good Christian charity.
Someone once said, and it might have been me, "If I had a creed, I would wrap it up in brown paper, send it to the British Museum, and ask them to put it in the basement with all the mummies from Egypt."
Can we just trust Christ to keep the roll from now on? Can we use only the King James Bible as our document to examine new people who come our way? Is the Bible all-sufficient to teach and preach the truth? If not, you are denying the faith once delivered.
Corinthians 13:4 (KJV) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
If I make it quite clear to YOU that I believe and am sure that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God," do you have the faith and charity to just believe that and give me the right hand of fellowship?
Must I come to you having signed onto a pile of man made rubbish? If so, you will lose the blessing of my fellowship. I will have nothing to do with your man made creed and claptrap. At age 67 my friend, I have been to war many times-- I have fallen and gotten back up many times-- I have taught my way through many books of the Bible. I have much experience from my walk with our Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot get back John Calvin and John Gill, but you can, for a few more years possibly, have a real live soldier sitting in the gate to share war stories and give counsel. YOU MISS THE BLESSING WHEN YOU RUN ME OFF OVER A MAN MADE DOCUMENT. That sounds arrogant, but it ought to scare you.
It is interesting, and it is sad-- when I come into a local church fellowship, and as the pastor and people learn that I am declining to participate in the traditions added to biblical truth, the preacher and other men become terrified of me. I may be silent as a church mouse about it, and say nothing to let on how I feel about their traditions, but they catch o-- they sniff out my zeal. And, they panic one day. But, my friend, after coming this far, and after living in one local church for 12 years with none of the traditions of man, and after seeing the peace and joy in that local church because we only used the King James Bible as our document, I WILL NOT GO BACK FOR YOU.
A bunch of you readers now agree with me I suspect. You are not stupid-- you see the problem, and you agree. But, who ACTS on the truth? Not many.
Steve Van Nattan
Editor of Blessed Quietness Journal
I have a document which I have, by heart and verbally, signed onto. It is a covenant between me and God. It is the Word of God, all 66 books of it and the Gospel defined therein.
Now, if I break any part of the law given me by God in the covenant between God and me, I find that my document gives penalties, and it gives me a formula for restoration to my relationship with God. I can never lose my standing as a son, but I can be found guilty of sin. In such a case, my document promises me an "Advocate," a "Mediator," between me and God.
1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1 John 2:1 (KJV) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
I am told I should not sin, or violate the laws of the covenant between me and God, but I do sin. When I do, I find, as the verse says, that I have an advocate who goes between me and God and pleads my innocence on the basis that he already paid the penalty attached to my violation.
Revelation 1:5 (KJV) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Question: Here is my question for you who invite me to sign onto a second covenant with you: If I sin and violate your covenant, which I will according to I John 1:8 and 10, who do you provide to die for me and wash away my sins and restore me to you? Who is the advocate and mediator between me and you?
Well, given the choice between my covenant and your covenant, I will stay with the better of the two:
Hebrews 8:6 (KJV) But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
Finally, God, in the covenant between me and him, makes NO provision for excommunicating me from our present relationship, and the term of the covenant is eternal, forever.
Hebrews 7:25 (KJV) Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Now that I am in Christ, I am in the Church, the Body of Christ, to the "uttermost." The Greek word means that I am entirely saved, full-ended. My end is to be, and to stay, saved, and that includes my membership in the Body of Christ-- no conditional clauses.
Question: Does your covenant provide for any option for you to excommunicate me from the covenant?
If so, YOU decide which of the two is a better choice.
The world of insurance understands that "double coverage" is deadly. For, if one insurer learns there is another insurer of you, they will try to void their own commitment to you when you have a claim.
If you have arranged for a situation in which you can void your obligations to me, then God has not.
There is NO insurance of the soul better than that. Why add second and third plan? Furthermore; I am unable to pay the price of the premium for membership in the Body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:8 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
I am all paid up and covered for life and eternity-- try the sucker next door-- he is in the Pentecostal Church, and his policy has a loophole in it a mile wide.
Question: Your confession, creed, and doctrinal statement-- are they inherent "in the words and in the thoughts?" I bet that is the first point in your Doctrinal Statement about the Word of God, right? Well, I am waiting-- are your man made documents inherent? If not, why do you have them? Why do you confound the truth by mixing YOUR notions with the truth when you know that YOU cannot trust your own best efforts?
Say, did no notice how quiet it is getting all of a sudden?
FURTHERMORE: WHY DO YOU WASTE ALL THE TIME DELIBERATING, AND MONEY ON PRINTING, TO PUT TOGETHER SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO KEEP FIXING, WHEN YOU HAVE A DOCUMENT YOU DON'T HAVE TO FIX-- THE BIBLE?
Question: You have your Creed, your Confession, or your Doctrinal Statement. You make or break fellowship with born again people depending on whether they hold to your particular Confession or Creed.
Tell me, would you die for your Confession or Creed?
If you say, "Yes," you are a fool, for God does not require that of you.
You will find nowhere in the New Testament where the Church of Jesus Christ added ANY additional document to define or secure the soundness of local church members. At issue here is not just local church life. In much of the world the local church enjoys a good measure of freedom from persecution. But, when the secular leaders decide to take authority over religious life..........
Question: Do they ban the Westminster Confession, the Heidelburg Confession, the London Baptist Confession, or the Doctrinal Statement of Bob Jones University?
Answer: NEVER! The courts ban the Bible, or they regulate its use. It is a religious book, and cannot be allowed to be used in trying a case without violating the US Constitution.
So, if you went to a court of law, would you be ready to defend yourself quoting the Word of God alone, or would you have to quote your Creed or Confession?
The interesting thing, at least in the USA, is that if you have nothing but a King James Bible for a document, the court may very well have to throw the case out of court. This is because the court will have to find you guilty or not guilty based on the King James Bible, and the First Amendment of the US Constitution will not permit such a ruling. Many cases have been thrown out of court for this reason.
If you are a non-profit corporation, the court will try you based on your constitution, which is required by the IRS. If you have NO other document but the Bible, they will have to drop the case, or they will start attacking individuals for trumped up charges of criminal behavior.
Question: If you had to go to prison for your faith, would you want to go there only for your beliefs in the Word of God, or would you be content to go there because you are a member of an organized nonprofit organization with man made documents which the court has every right to use against you?
I find it ironic that when the Communists in Russia started persecuting the Russian Baptists, they stopped keeping a church membership roll, and they started using only first names of those who attended. A lot of these obsessions with man made traditions would fly out the window in a flash if Christians had to die for them.
The existence of a nonprofit corporation, which 99.9% of all American churches are, is based on six things which the IRS absolutely enforces:
1. You have a Constitution with a dissolution clause.
2. You have elected leaders and trustees,
3. you have a list in writing of the corporation's members.
4. You report every year to Caesar on his from from the IRS.
5. You keep books which anyone from the public must be allowed to see, and which Caesar wants to see.
6. You have regular meetings of the members and keep minutes of those meetings. If you want to do away with your membership list, you will have to un-register your nonprofit corporate relationship with Caesar. This CAN be done, and I have done it myself. It was very peaceful.
None of these six are needed if you are simply a church. The word "church" has had a legal definition since the USA was founded, and it is the ONLY truly religious entity (made up of more than one person) covered by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, other than individuals alone.
Now, if you decide to unregister, and you go through the lawful steps to do this, and you become 100% free of entanglement with Caesar, all Caesar needs to drag you into court and proceed against you is that you retain one or more of the six items above. It can be argued, successfully, that in retaining one or more of the above six items, you have recognized that they are valid and binding. So, your church membership, in a day of persecution, will damn you in any earthly court.
Without the above six items, you are free to define your local church fellowship in purely biblical terms, and the court must throw the case out at once. This TOO has happened a number of times in the USA.
Question: Are you called to be jailed, or even killed, for stopping unregenerate men from being wicked?
This brings up another issue-- demonstrating and standing in front of abortion clinics. We are clearly called to one thing by Jesus Christ:
16:14 (KJV) Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided
them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them
which had seen him after he was risen.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
When we step out into the market place, our top priority should be to seek opportunities to give the Gospel to the lost. When we get into good works activities which make damned-to-hell sinners behave better, but the emphasis is not on the Gospel, we are accepting someone's man-made priorities.
Paul says it another way: 1 Corinthians 2:2 (KJV) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
When Jesus was twelve years old and went up to Jerusalem, he stayed behind when Joseph and Mary headed home. When Joseph and Mary went back to look for him, they did NOT find him in front of the Jerusalem hippodrome protesting the massacre of innocent people in the Roman games. He was with the doctors of the Jewish faith, at the temple, asking and answering questions.
2:46 (KJV) And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
I challenge you to find anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus launched a program to make sinners more moral without preaching the Kingdom of God.
Some of you preachers need to invite an abortionist to lunch, and show the love of Christ and challenge him to consider the simple Gospel. Scary thought, right?
Question: Read these verses please:
12:22 (KJV) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Do You believe everything in these verses? Yes? Well, that is good.
Now, do you believe that the "general assembly and church of the firstborn" has been entered in a book in heaven in writing (vs. 23)? Yes? Well, that is good. You are a literalist, and that means you are a true Bible believer.
Finally, do you believe that Jesus' list of church members is a "better" list than your list?
Ah, now, there is the rub, right? If you say "yes," then you KNOW I will ask you why, in the name of God, you need a second list. So, do you trust Jesus to keep his list up do date and safe for all eternity? If you say, "No, Jesus' list is not enough," you know very well that you are a blasphemer.
You creep-- you haven't got the guts to do the right thing, do you?
4:15 (KJV) For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this,
16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
You want to boast of your growing membership roll, right? Admit it, you love to stand in the foyer of the preacher's conference and brag on your numbers of new converts, baptisms, and new members. Verse 16 says your boasting is evil. Boasting of numbers, is evil, is WICKED.
Now, you "knoweth to do good." That is, you KNOW you should stop all your boasting. But worse, you KNOW that your second list of members is a denial of the keeping power of Jesus Christ. You know the Church in Acts made no list of members. But, you refuse to get rid of your list. You, friend, are a violator of the Word of God you claim to believe, and your rebellion is the reason you have a mixed multitude of sheep and goats in your local church.
Do you realize, you Reformed and Baptists who teach the eternal security of the believer, that you really do NOT believe they are secure until YOU approve of them? You object of course. Well, in a court of law, your church membership list would most certainly damn you when entered into evidence. And, you may just get to see that membership list in heaven..... just before the Glory of God turns it into ashes of wood, hay, and stubble.
What if God hands you you membership list and asks you, "Are all the people on your list here in heaven with us?"
Are you ready to assure him they are?
Meditate this as you sit in your big throne behind the pulpit next Sunday.
For the record-- I do not hate you-- do you hate me now?
Question: Are you at rest, or are you in limping mode?
Hebrews 4:3 (KJV) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Hebrews 4:10 (KJV) For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
If you have two memberships, two covenants, two confessions (the Bible and a man made confession), or two doctrinal statements, you are NOT at rest. You are ALWAYS uncertain of the man made version of the heavenly version. You can lie to me and claim you are completely at peace, but you ARE a liar. Peace comes only from single mindedness.
Over my whole lifetime I have heard men in the pulpit preface a statement by apologizing to some past theologian like John Calvin of John Gill or even someone sitting in the audience, and then they go on to give their interpretation of some verse. They may go on to cross reference from other passages in the Bible. I often have realized they were as correct as anyone I had heard speak on the verse in question.
So, why do they apologize?
Answer: They are not at rest because they have more than one authority whom they feel obligated to answer to. BAH! I hate this timid unmanly waffling sloppy agape rubbish. Tell me what you believe that a Bible text means, and I will agree with you, or I will disagree with you. After all, neither you nor I are the final authority-- that is, if we have only ONE final authority, the Word of God.
My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.
Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He'll never cast me out.
My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior's name,
Salvation through His blood.
My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.
What does the Bible say about a man who has two authorities?
1:5 (KJV) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men
liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
If you have two authorities, you "lack wisdom, you are "driven with the wind and tossed," and you are "a double minded man." You are "UNSTABLE" at best. You give an uncertain sound:
1 Corinthians 14:8 (KJV) For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
Let me put it very bluntly-- I have absolutely no tolerance for a man of God who stands before the saints and turns to a bowl of insipid mush by subjecting himself, over and over, to any authority than the Word of God. Please lead, or follow, or get your worthless hide out of the way. Your nervous paranoia is sickening. You are NOT at rest with the Word of God and Christ.
There is nothing more worthless in war time than a commander walking up and down conferring, and conferring, and conferring, wringing his hands, and never able to give a command and stick with it. If you are one of these wimps I have just discussed, you are, as they say in Missouri, "worthless as tits on a bore hog."
When Winston Churchill convinced the British Military to take the Black Sea and the Turkish coast, and attack Germany from two sides in WW I, the result was catastrophic. To this day, Churchill is carelessly blamed for the horrible loss of life and total failure of the Battle of, but it was , in fact brilliant. The western front was totally bogged down. Later reports verified Churchill's view that the Turks were ill prepared to fight off the attack.
So, why was the attack a rout, and why did the Admiralty turn against Churchill and demote him? Answer: The point man, Admiral J.M. de Robeck, who lead the battle, entered the Bosporus Straits LAST instead of leading the attack. After the warships were all in the Straits, the wimp Admiral then returned to sea and laid off shore and out of the battle. He then called the battle off without seeking permission from higher command. The historians took many years to finally figure out that Churchill's concept was good classic war strategy and would have greatly shortened the war.
Timid men are worthless when the battle really gets started. That is what you are if you halt between two authorities. You are limping on both legs, sir.
1 Kings 18:21 (KJV) And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Steve Van Nattan
Editor of Blessed Quietness Journal
These are personal empirical observations. They are not necessarily direct contradictions of the Word of God, but things I have seen in groups founded on Doctrinal Statements, Creeds, Confessions, and man made Covenants and "Baptist Standards."
All things may be observed by the cause and effect method of logic. If the effect seems to be evil or contrary to the Word of God, then the cause must be considered highly suspect, no matter how lofty the intentions of those who initiated it. Anything invented in the mind of man, no matter how good his motives, must be held to examination by the Word of God.
If a tree gives fowl fruit, though it was supposed to have a great reputation when you bought it at the tree farm, you must conclude that either the true heritage of the tree, or the soil, or something you added, is the cause of bad fruit. Bad fruit does not just happen. All fruit, good or bad, points back to a cause.
7:16 (KJV) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns,
or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Here are several examples of cause and effect in Christendom:
1. Pride is very often the chief fruit of these man made documents. This is very old stuff, for the Pharisees in Jesus' day were exactly the same. Their rules about washing the hands came up in Jesus experience. It was a very expanded amendation to the laws of Moses. The result was that the Pharisees were very proud that they had covered virtually every detail of life for a Jew by their Mishna (added laws) and Talmud (added writings by Jewish rabbis in later years).
The Pharisees, in their amendments to the Law of Moses, had also defined healing of people as work, and thus, a violation of the Sabbath. Pride was everywhere in every confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. Thus, it is the same today with all these added sacral documents of man during the age of Christendom-- the men who KEEP the Creed and Confessions are very proud of those documents-- they, by their works, can thus justify their man made documents, AND THEMSELVES. What is said about self-justification?
Luke 10:25 (KJV) And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
The lawyer got himself into a corner. He knew Jesus had him trumped by the Law of Moses. So, the lawyer did what lawyers are great at-- he tried to justify himself by implying that the Law of Moses failed to specify who his neighbor was in verse 29. Jesus did NOT give advanced revelation at this point, though, as God, he could have. He could have added a long list of amendments to Moses Law. Jesus told a story to illustrate who the neighbor is. Jesus ended by turning the question around and making the lawyer answer his own question. The pride of the lawyer-- he thought he could trap anyone-- was trashed.
I am not imagining this-- I have never in my life seen as much pride in alleged Christians as I have seen in Reformed Christians regarding their Confessions and Creeds. And, Fundamental Baptists and other conservative groups come very close to this also in their pride over their "Standards." Whole pastor's conferences have been devoted to sermons on long hair, hem lines, and male authority.
Nothing could be more insane if the Word of God is the standard, for the Word of God is pure and absolute, whether I keep it or not. I am not proud of the Bible-- I am SURE of it. My pride is pointless if God is really the power behind the Word of God. I do not have to justify the Bible-- it either justifies or damns ME. I can make myself no better than you if you have the same Bible I have. But, if you and I have different creeds or confessions, then we have a great opportunity, by stealth and argument, to make one of us more righteous than the other.
This is why anyone who violates the Creed, Doctrinal Statement, or Covenant is excommunicated. The leaders of the group, from their lofty position as creed keepers, must apply the punishment attached to and particular violation of the Creed. Man cannot damn anyone, so he does second best-- he excommunicates them (Fundamental Baptists call this "churching" them). It feels good to the perverted soul of man to kick the butt of a violator. This also betrays their faulty understanding of the justice of God.
Samson comes to mind. Though God allowed him to be made blind and grind at the mill of the enemy for years, God was still there ready to hear his last request, and God gave it to him. In fact, Saul fulfilled his duty to destroy the enemies of the Hebrews people better in his death than in his life-- BY GOD'S SOVEREIGN MERCY. It is VERY rare to hear of any group eagerly looking forward to the repentance of an excommunicated member after twenty years. In fact, excommunicated members are best used as sermon illustrations of what a violator looks like and what can happen to YOU if you violate. And, most preachers don't have the decency to wait even three weeks before using their fate in a sermon to make a point.
The multiplicity of creeds and confessions and doctrinal statements, and there are thousands of them within Christendom, results in a believer having to recant of any past creed, and sign onto the "perfect" creed, when he requests to leave one local church and join another. This is even sometimes true in local churches where both churches are in the same denomination.
2. Purity in personal doctrine and personal living are not secured after all. Whether we look at Fundamental Baptists with their "Baptist Standards," or we look at the Reformed churches with their Creeds, Confessions, Catechisms, and Covenants, it is all too common for the group leaders to overlook all manner of ungodly life practice if it is not covered in the official man made documents. This has lead, especially in the Reformed movement, to some very wicked and mindless behavior.
I recall, after tuning a piano of a retired Christian Reformed state Chief of Police, and after they had put away several high balls while I was tuning, as I walked away from their front door, they and their Christian Reformed neighbors were singing, "Then shings my shoul, my Shavior Got doo thee, how great dow arth, how great dow arth....." They were all soused on booze. But, they were both on the consistory of their church and probably could hold forth on the teachings of John Calvin for hours. Thus it is with all Reformed churches-- they are morally or mentally blind to anything John Calvin or Luther did not cover.
Doctrine is another issue. Many groups have a stated doctrine in their Creed or Doctrinal Statement which sounds very biblical. But, they wander off into liberalism and rationalism and simply leave the creed to stand alone. It is there for the gullible newby, but the scholars and thinkers do as they jolly well please with doctrine in their teachings and writings. In fact, some of the most Liberal and morally perverted denominations still have, and sign with solemn dignity, a very biblical Doctrinal Statement. This applies to ALL para-church organization like Christian Colleges and Mission Boards. Done that, been there.
Again, let us make it very clear-- they are not satisfied with the Word of God alone. I believe that God has allowed, in his sovereignty, that 200 perverted English Bibles be published since 1950. Why would God do that? Answer: He gives them what they want. They have turned their backs on the simple plain Word of God and added 10,000 various doctrinal statements and creeds and confessions. The average preacher rushes to open a commentary before he does an exhaustive cross reference of the Word itself. He lusts for an authority OTHER THAN GOD. I have actually heard a man in the pulpit apologize for disagreeing with John Gill, even after he had just done a great exegeses of the text using the Word alone. I am not of John Gill, John Calvin, John Walvoord, or John MacArthur. Keep your Johns out back please. Teach me the Bible.
So, God permitted the Word to be perverted and took it away from them until Christ returns.
Ezekiel 21:26 (KJV) Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.
27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.
"Overturn" in this verse is the intensive Hebrew ( for the word 'awah av-vaw ) which means to pervert or send astray. If man finally, at the end of this dispensation, has arrived at a point where he has maxed out God's patience by adding traditions which make the Word of "none effect," then God can be expected to virtually hide the truth from modern man by sending them astray after Satanic bibles. How else can you explain the proliferation of perverted bibles since 1950? (CF Strong's Concordance Word No. 5753 and 5754)
3. The groups may be very staunch in defending and enforcing their creed or covenant, but they see no need to go beyond it. So, any doctrine not included in the creed or document is not taught or discussed. Almost all Reformed creeds and covenants do NOT cover eschatology, so they don't talk about it, and they don't teach it. Never mind that a very large percent of the Bible is prophetic. They tend to be all over the place on eschatology, but no one has any strong zeal in it, for it is considered uncharitable to have strong opinions on anything not in the creed or the confession.
4. The Creeds, Doctrinal Statements, Confessions, Constitutions, and Covenants are always written to sound like legal documents. The Bible is a metanarrative that is all inclusive of all things useful for life and our relationship to God and to each other. While the Bible contains some stark laws and codes, it balances them with history, poetry, and life stories of good and bad men who illustrate to us the application of the laws and codes, but more importantly, our biblical metanarrative includes the story of the mercy of God.
To redact the Bible, with what amounts to a short form version of the doctrines, we are left without the tender touch of God seen as he works with men to call them to himself, and to guide, chasten, and reward them for their actions. For this reason, the response of almost all groups, when a creedal or covenantal code is violated is NOT mercy. The metanarrative of the Word of God is out of context with the confession or creed. Some mercy may be shown out of deference to the spirit of the Word of God, but, in the end, punishment is meted out with fierce acts of the sacral authority, by the top brass of the group.
This I find vastly UNLIKE the ways of Jehovah and Christ with his people, for God frequently showed mercy to those who did not deserve it.
5. Creeds, Confessions, Doctrinal Statements, and Covenants are deadly weapons. They shoot grape shot. Grape shot was used long ago in cannons to kill without distinction. A large bundle of small round shot was packed into the cannon, and when it went off, it sent a swath of death into a group of the enemy and killed many men at once. During the civil war, several battles were fought in which both sides used grape shot.
Pastor Mike Napier walked through the woods in Tennessee where such a battle was fought. He said the history books told that virtually every tree was destroyed, as well as thousands of men. Neither side won the battle-- they basically destroyed each other too completely to figure out if either side won. He said the woods, where that battle took place, had no large trees in it yet, a tribute to the wickedness in man's heart.
When a preacher stands in the pulpit and declares the Word of God, the Holy Ghost is promised, by God, to make sure the Word is selectively applied only to those who need it-- edification, correction, rebuke, comfort, or instruction, every man according to his need.
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 (KJV) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
When the Creed or Confession is declared, there is NO promise that the Holy Ghost will take charge. There is NO control over who is affected as the cannon full of grape shot is fired. ONLY the Word of God comes with the following promise:
Isaiah 55:11 (KJV) So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Personal-- from me to you preachers and elders and deacons, you consistories, vestries, synods, presbyteries, and church boards:
Knowing that you have NO promise that your Creed or Confession or Baptist Standards will go forth under the direct control of the Holy Ghost (for they are NOT included in the Isaiah promise above), how dare you preachers boom away with your man made doctrines and traditions and articles? You are hitting people whom you had no intention of hurting. You have no control over your grape shot religion. You are wicked. You have become a brute, and your good intentions be damned.
6. Dispensationalism is just as powerful a distraction as any other man made discipline. It is written into Doctrinal Statements and is hailed as the foundation of nearly every popular book on prophecy. Dispensationalism will get you hired or fired at many Christian Colleges, and it will welcome you or turn you away from local church membership in many churches. It will most certainly get you excommunicated if you pledge allegiance to one dispensational model and then change to another based on your personal Bible study. In that sense, dispensationalism is wicked and just another tradition of man.
The same applies, in Reformed churches, to declarations regarding covenants in the Word of God, as defined in creeds and confessions.
The worst of it is that future things, which is much of dispensational teaching, has not happened, yet we are invited to take the vow to one particular model in the risk that we may feel like a fool by the day we die and go to be with the Lord. This is because your chart of boxes may be wiped out by ongoing history. I recall back in the 1960s when the Common Market was formed. All the dispensationalists started predicting the restoring of the Roman Empire and the toes of iron and clay in Daniel.
There are ten toes, you know. Well, one day the eleventh nation joined, and then the Common Market morphed into the European Union, and now the thing has 27 nations in it. There is virtually no way numerological tricks can make this into the restored Roman Empire. Sweden and Finland were never in the Roman Empire. Oooooops!
I added this point recently because I tend to be dispensational in my thinking, but I refuse to make of break fellowship with born again saints over dispensational models. I have my own chart I made long ago, but it has already gotten knocked into a cocked hat. Sigh. :-)
"But Steve, you are so harsh..."
I have been blunt and harsh in this discussion for a reason-- much harm is being done by man made documents and creeds. The very fact that every creed and confession disagrees with the others PROVES that something is amiss.
Why should I hold back?
You deserve more than I can, in good Christian charity, give you. If anything, I have been too restrained.
May God deliver us all from man made rubbish left laying about from the traditions of past fools. I realize I stand very much alone in this. I shall cautiously quote a great reformer:
"Here I stand, I can do no other...."
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
If they are God's words, you are safe-- if they are YOUR words, get ready for condemnation.
I need no other document,
I need no other creed;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And rose again for me.
Curses on YOU.................
print this page,
carry it to a church business meeting,
move, second, and carry it, and vote on it,
and make it in any way binding on anyone on earth, saved or unsaved.
Frankly, I would rather every one who ever reads this page hates it, and curses me, than to hear that some diddle head used it as an authoritative guide to any purpose.
17:10 (KJV) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto
Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Be a noble Berean-- prove this page right or wrong from a King James Bible alone please.
SO, CHURCH MEMBERSHIP IS A CARDINAL LAW IN BAPTIST CHURCHES?
Well, how many of those members are born again? It is glaringly obvious that thousands of damned-to-hell sinners are on the church rolls of Baptist churches. The sheep fold is infiltrated by goats and wolves, but the jerkwater jack ass preachers are so blasted obsessed with numbers that they dare not dump the wolves out the door. Usually, the jack ass preacher comes with a jenny ass wife who rules the preacher from the shadows. Check it out. See if I am not right.
The New Testament church was a gathering of the saved. Jesus said that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He was NOT talking about the churches discussed in the above article.