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Church? A Conundrum! (continued)

In the last post the question was posed as to why there are so many different denominations and sects in the Christian Church?, and we left the answer till now.

The Bible also asks the same question but states it this way, “is Christ divided?” or is, “Christ the author of confusion?” The obvious answer to that is, NO! Then why all the divisions? The Church, over the last couple of millennia, has given up even looking for an answer, assuming that what they see, and what their experience dictates, is O.K. with the Lord, and that what they have read in the Bible doesn’t mean, what it appears to say. But, any amount of common sense should cause us to step back and ask the question, why the divisions?, if we believe the plain words of the inspired Scriptures. With all the divisions, someone uninitiated to “orthodoxy” would venture to answer that Christ is divided, and that He is the author of confusion, because that is what we see in the Church today, and for many, many, hundreds of years.  So, we must question the validity of Scriptures or the validity of those who are causing the divisions, namely the universities, the colleges, the ecclesiastical organizers, the preachers, the bishops and elders and deacons, and the pope. Either they are right or the Bible is right. Somebody is either ignorant of what the Bible says or they are just plain lying for the sake of self aggrandizement.

The organized Church cannot answer the question, because they are part of the problem, but, as stated last post, the answer is quite simple, FAITH, is the solution, “from faith to faith,” just as the Bible declares. But, you ask, simply stating that faith is the answer seems rather complicated to the mind reared on reason and study, and theology and doctrine, and creeds and councils, and pastors and popes, but, nonetheless, it is faith alone. The question must be answered on an individual basis, and not influenced by familiarity, friendship, or family. If the “seeker” is interested in truth, then he/she must deal with these honest questions.

What Are You Eating?

Let me try and explain. It has to do with our diet, the stuff we are eating, and the tree from which we harvest “wisdom.” Remember this verse from Solomon? “There is a way that seems right to man, but the way thereof is the way of death.” From where cometh the “way that seems right” and the wisdom of man? It is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A Little History

The history of man upon the earth is the history of failure. Why did he fail? Because he depended on his own knowledge of reason, sense, rationale, mixed with a generous helping of brute force, worldly talent, and the gift of verbal manipulation. In essence he did things the way men do things, these were the ways that seemed right unto man, and he had access to nothing else, almost! There were a few in those days who understood what God wanted, and learned to please Him by trusting Him. We remember the great examples of Abraham who trusted God and it was counted unto him as righteousness, and David who was the apple of His eye, because of his great trust in his Savior; and we compare this with the great failure of King Saul, who did things that “seemed right,” and all the other failures, up to and including, the great “Church” debacle of today. This is the unending story of men doing things they “reason” will please God.

The Old Testament is a story of how man has failed, and why he failed. Every time the Jews turned from God and did things there own way, there was failure, and when they “believed” that God would return to them, when they relinquished their own vain attempts, according to His faithful promise, then things would turn around, and so goes the see-saw life of the Jews all the way through the Old Testament. Then, we come to the New Testament, and we find that we must exercise faith and trust in God, just like the Old Testament believers; that it is “faith unto faith, the just shall live by faith,” then, now, and forever.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

We all know that there is only one “Christianity,” so why all the diversity? The challenge of that question has been the cause of many sleepless nights. I have studied many of the different sects, and read large portions of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Phillip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, read the works of Luther and Calvin, but the question remained, why all the division? The very closest I have come is by taking a closer look at what happened in the Garden of Eden.

The desire for the fruit of the knowledge concerning good and evil has taken men far from the truth, in pursuit of the fulfillment of an appetite created by the adversary of God, and man, Satan. We now live in a world that feeds that appetite on foul fruit, that never satisfies, or leads to truth.

This is where faith comes in. In the Garden of Eden we are told to eat of any tree except the forbidden tree. Now that we are outside God’s Garden, we are for the duration of this life, in the Garden of Satan, and here we are told by Satan, to eat of any tree in the garden, except the one he forbids, the Tree of Life, which is now contained in the inspired words between the covers of Scriptures. Granted many will read the Bible, but do they eat it? Have they really ingested that wisdom, and incorporated the words of God into the fabric of their life and soul, and trusted God to complete His task through them, and not just rubber stamp their own plans and goals by presumptuously claiming God’s blessing? All that we see around us is the production of our accumulated knowledge obtained from our many sources of knowledge, the knowledge of men, not God. Quite simply Jesus tells us to not trust our own thoughts; that we cannot even think a sinless thought. Paul tells us that it was not by knowledge that we came to know Christ, but rather through revelation. This is why “faith” is so important. We must take at face value the direction given to us from the Bible, the inspired words of God.

Christian men call themselves “believers.” Basically, we claim to be believers in what we read in the Bible, as “from God.” In this Book we are told to believe many things, and we readily exercise a superficial faith in the things which appeal to our self interest and flesh, like getting things from God: job security, good health, and a home in Heaven. The Bible has become like a good luck charm, and the cross a talisman, but there are other things in the Bible we are told to believe also.

So, here we go again, Why, so much difficulty? Why so many divisions? And, why so much failure and feuding in the Church? At the core of this answer is a lack of faith. At the core of this answer is a lack of understanding of what faith is. And, at the core of this answer is the fact that we are not believing the things required by God. This is where the element of “faith” becomes powerful.

Fellowship with God, and other Christians, will come to us as we just believe, and eat the Flesh of Jesus, and drink His blood. He is that Tree of Life.

Trusting Jesus will contradict every fiber of knowledge we have gathered on our journey through life, because it is contrary to what we experience in the garden of Satan; it is the knowledge of two totally different kinds of life. Most times we are not asked to figure it all out first, but to just trust Him, then He will confirm it us His own way. You see, that is the way of faith. But, Christians today think they must have the teaching of men, and traditions, and creeds, and councils, and techniques of worship, candles, ambience, labyrinths, choirs, stain glass, and all the other stuff that goes into building something learned from eating from the wrong tree. Simple faith is really just “simple faith.”

Take away all that the tree of un-belief (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) has added to the body of Christ (marketing, church growth, organization, ritual, titles, costumes, programs, etc.) and you would find how rapidly believers would find themselves in agreement on most issues. But, that is not going to happen because the stool of pride would have to be knocked out from under them, and they have a vested interest in keeping that stool upright.

God’s plan is a mystery because the minds of men cannot figure out what God is up to through their own knowledge; His ways are only understood by faith. Since the day that Eve ate that fruit and shared it with Adam man approaches every inquiry, question, or problem, with the goal of reasoning and weighing the odds, in his mind, as to whether or not this is the will of God, or how he can do, what he has reasonably deduced, as honoring Jesus. When there are conflicts with other “men of faith” there different “reasons” prevail and divisions occur.  Even prayer, is nearly always approached with an answer already conceived or an excuse made. Projects are promoted with the thinking that such and such a thing must surely please God. Bible passages are ignored, even though they clearly direct us to just trust God and have faith in Him, and place our plans on the altar.

The heart of man is corrupted beyond repair. His thoughts and powers of reason cannot be trusted. Paul warns us to cast off our intelligence as a way of finding the will of God. What we see in all the divisions of men is not intelligence or good reasoning, but terrible confusion and deception.

The way of understanding the will of God does not come through degrees or diplomas, through choreographed worship services, through eloquent speeches, through the beads of a rosary, through attending many conferences, through repeating a mantra, or any other devices of men; they are all lies. You can search the Scriptures from now till doomsday to find such things.

It is only as we cast ourselves onto Him, completely, without reservation, our minds, our hearts, and our bodies, and trust and believe that it is God who comes to us, and not the other way around, that He, reveals Himself, to us. All the church growth business, all the grand missionary organizations, all the talk of social justice and unity, and winning the world for God is nothing but legalism veiled in the pretty garments of men dressing up for their God, or putting on a show, which does more for the ego, of the men doing it, than it does to satisfy the Lord. God has nowhere required men to do these things. All He has ever required of men, both Jew and Gentile, is to let go of their devices and trust Him. He is the One who builds the Church, He is the One who heals the land, He is the One who goes before us, and is our rear guard, it is Him who prepares a table in the presence of our enemies, it is God who causes our enemies to live at peace with us, when our ways please Him.

Do you see that it is this message that the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp through faith. What we are exposed to in this evil garden, outside the walls of safety, are all the lies of Satan finding fertile soil in our corrupted abilities to reason things out and find the truth, where no truth exist. The Bible holds the answer to all our questions, and anyone, regardless of intellect, can be found by Him, if they who will just fall upon that Rock, and be broken.

What I have written here is not the words of a great person, or well known amongst the preachers of this world, but it is the truth, and God Himself has promised that when you fall on Him, He will save you. You need not go forward at some meeting, or speak in tongues, or confess to a priest, or send money on a regular basis, or mail off for some prayer cloth; you don’t have to do anything except trust Jesus, and continue trusting Him all the days of your life. You don’t have to go to some building and listen to speeches once a week; God requires none of those things, they are all the contrivances of mere men who think they understand faith in God.

I feel that the following response from Jesus, when he was asked the question – “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” embodies the simplicity of faith in a most elegant and profound manner. “Jesus replied:

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40.

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